Heroin is the most dangerous narcotic available today. Perceptions about heroin use are changing and its acceptability is entering mainstream culture. On the street Heroin is known as Tar, Smack, Bindles, Junk, China White or Horse. Heroin can come in a sticky tar-like form known as black tar, a brownish powder or a pure white powder known as china white. Black Tar heroin has a distinct odor to it, it smells like vinegar.
Heroin is extremely addictive with tolerance and physical dependence developing rapidly. Moderate doses of heroin cause euphoria, a warm “rush” sensation, constricted pupils, and nausea. Higher doses result in restlessness, constipation, droopy eyelids, slow breathing, depressed cough reflux, sweating, lethargy, slow heart rate, and sedation. Overdose results in respiratory failure and death.
The drug is highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms (cold turkey) may begin within 6 to 24 hours of discontinuation of the drug. However, this time frame can fluctuate with the degree of tolerance as well as the amount of the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms may include: sweating, malaise, anxiety, depression, priapism (sustained erection), extra sensitivity of the genitals in females, general feeling of heaviness, cramp-like pains in the limbs, excessive yawning or sneezing, tears, rhinorrhea, sleep difficulties (insomnia), cold sweats, chills, severe muscle and bone aches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever.
Heroin abuse is associated with a number of serious health problems including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, and serious infectious diseases (HIV, Hepatitis C, sexually transmitted diseases). Pregnant women who are abusing heroin put the fetus at extreme risk.
Warning Signs Of Heroin Use:
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Tendency toward recklessness
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Items of value being “lost or stolen”
- Burnt foil being present in car, room, or in personal effects
- Mood swings, intense rage, lying, and manipulation
- Sudden drop in grades and excessive ditching at school
- Finding evidence of prescription drugs
- Scratching hands and arms
- Strong craving for sweets, morning, noon, and night.
- Possession of drug paraphernalia (needles, burnt spoons, cotton balls, pens, cut-off water bottles, foil)
- Foil & toilet paper rolls are commonly used to smoke heroin.
Some Physical Signs Of Heroin Use:
- Runny nose and constant sniffling
- Needle marks on arms and/or legs, between toes, in groin area
- Sores on nostrils and top of lips from smoking heroin
- Constant “hacking” cough from smoking heroin off of tin foil
- Loss of appetite and dramatic weight loss
- Nodding off during day and inability to sleep at night
- Dark circles under eyes and constant sleepy or groggy expression
Indicators of narcotic use:
- Constricted pupils
- Skin cool to touch
- Ptosis – “on the nod”
- Slowed raspy speech
- Slowed / shallow breathing
- Drowsiness and excessive yawning
- Itching of face, arms and body
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of coordination
- Decreased physical activity
- Mood changes
- Impaired mental function and alertness
- Depression and apathy
Street Names Associated with Heroin:
Smack, Horse, Brown, Black Tar, Hazel, Poppy, H, China White, Bindles, Balloons, Junk, Chasing the Tiger, Choco-Fan, SKA, Mainline, Cheese or Chedda, Train, Chipper, Speedball, Al Capone, Witch Hazel, Gato, Brea, Monkey Water
Effects on the fetus
Addiction to heroin complicates pregnancy and may cause premature delivery, premature rupture of membranes (breaking of water) leading to infection in the newborn infant, poor fetal growth and death of the newborn. Exposed newborns may exhibit withdrawal symptoms and they have an increased risk of SIDS. Behavior problems, poor organizational and perception skills, and motor skill problems are common in children born to addicts.