Dangers of Heroin

The dangers of heroin affect the user's health, finances, school/career and those they love. When heroin was first introduced in the late 19th century, it was promoted as a pain reliever and cough suppressant. By the early 20th century, the dangers of heroin were recognized. Laws were introduced throughout North America and Europe to restrict the production, distribution and use of heroin.

In some countries, there are circumstances where heroin may be prescribed by physicians. In Britain, for example, doctors may prescribe heroin for extreme pain. This treatment is usually reserved for patients who are terminally ill. Although Canadian drug regulations were changed in the 1980s to allow heroin to be prescribed, it is rarely used. In Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, a small number of people who are heroin-dependent, and who have not responded to other treatments, receive heroin by prescription in carefully monitored maintenance programs.

One of the largest dangers of heroin is the risk for overdose. It's impossible to judge the purity of street heroin. Many accidental overdoses have occurred when a batch of particularly pure heroin is released onto the streets, overwhelming the built-up tolerances of regular users. Smoking or snorting, rather than injecting, reduces the chance of overdosing but does not eliminate it.

The signs of a heroin overdose can be difficult to spot, at least at first. The heroin user experiences the usual symptoms associated with taking the drug, including dry mouth, small pupils and constipation. The excess amount of heroin in the user's system can lead to slow, shallow breathing. The person may even stop breathing entirely. Other signs of overdose include low blood pressure and a weak pulse. Lack of oxygen can lead to the nails and the user's lips taking on a bluish tinge. Drowsiness occurs, and the person who has overdosed on the drug may lose consciousness and slip into a coma. If an overdose is suspected, seek medical attention immediately.

Another of the many dangers of heroin is the use of needles for injection. Heroin users may choose to inject the drug into a vein because it delivers the dose more efficiently than other methods. A heroin user can start to experience a "high" in a few seconds using this method. If the drug is injected into a muscle, the user will start to feel its effects in between five and eight minutes. Injecting this drug often causes many of the well known dangers of heroin. The two main safety problems caused by injection: the transmission of HIV and other diseases (especially Hepatitis B & C) through sharing needles, and the dangers of injecting dangerous additives under your skin. As a rule, it is important that heroin users never share needles. Sharing equipment just isn't worth the risk and clean equipment is available for free from Needle Exchanges and some pharmacies.

The dangers of heroin also include adulterants, these are substances added to heroin to cut it. Pure heroin cannot be taken, since it can cause an overdose. To lower the quality of the drug, heroin is often cut with nutmeg, sucrose, starch, caffeine, chalk, powdered milk, flour and talcum powder. Local anesthetics, such as lidocaine and procaine, may also be used for this purpose. Other substances that have been used to cut heroin include laundry detergent, Ajax cleaning powder and poisons like strychnine.

The more benign ingredients listed here may not be immediately harmful to the heroin user. When injected they can cause chronic problems such as itchy and inflamed skin and veins. The powder solution injected is also likely to contain bacteria. When the heroin is laced with a toxic substance, such as strychnine, it can cause convulsions, liver failure and death if the concentration is high enough.

Dangers of heroin also include drug addiction. This drug is considered to be a highly habit forming substance. A person may start using out of curiosity, because they are looking for a way to escape from stress in their lives or as a way to deal with painful issues. They see the sense of euphoria and the relaxed state that follows as being a way to zone out and get away from the circumstances in their lives that they don't like.

One of the dangers of heroin is that people become physically dependent on the drug. Once the body gets used to its presence, the user must keep on ingesting the drug in order to avoid going into withdrawal symptoms. At that point, the person is no longer in control of his or her drug use and is being controlled by an addiction to it instead.

Every time the addict uses heroin, he or she is risking an overdose and other health consequences, since it's impossible to determine how pure street heroin is or what other substances it has been cut with. Not only is using the drug fraught with danger, but once the addict becomes drowsy and listless in the second stage of the experience, he or she is vulnerable to being robbed, assaulted or sexually assaulted.

A person who manages to avoid being the victim of a crime while using heroin is still at risk for a number of health issues brought on by the dangers of heroin. Chronic heroin abuse can result in scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease.

Using this drug regularly can also cause lung-related health issues like pneumonia and tuberculosis. Pregnant women who use heroin are at a higher risk for miscarriage, as well as delivering a premature baby. Once the baby is born, the infant is at a higher risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Constipation caused by a combination of poor eating habits and the effects of the drug on the bowels can lead to hemorrhoids. Addicts can also suffer from malnutrition because they're never hungry. Being malnourished means the heroin user is less able to fight off viral infections and illnesses.



  • The damaging effects of heroin on the brain could take years to recover from.

  • Physical pain in the bones and muscles may occur while on withdrawal from heroin.

  • Heroin overdoses can slow the respiratory system down to the point that it can just stop.

  • Heroin is a highly addictive opiate.

  • An individual experiencing withdrawal symptom from heroin will crave the drug more than ever before.

  • When crushed into powder form, heroin can be snorted.

  • Heroin, in its purest of forms is a white powdery substance.

  • Heroin is a depressant that inhibits the central nervous system.

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