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ARE YOU IN THE "KNOW" ABOUT HEROIN?
KNOW THE SLANG
Smack, Horse, Mud, Brown Sugar, Junk, Black Tar, Big H, Dope, Skag
KNOW WHAT IT IS
Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which is obtained from the opium poppy. It is a "downer" that affects the brain's pleasure systems and interferes with the brain's ability to perceive pain.
KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
White to dark brown powder or tar-like substance.
KNOW HOW IT IS USED
Heroin can be used in a variety of ways, depending on user preference and the purity of the drug. Heroin can be injected into a vein ("mainlining"), injected into a muscle, smoked in a water pipe or standard pipe, mixed in a marijuana joint or regular cigarette, inhaled as smoke through a straw, known as "chasing the dragon," snorted as powder via the nose.
KNOW THE FACTS
Heroin affects your brain. Heroin enters the brain quickly. It slows down the way you think, slows down reaction time, and slows down memory. This affects the way you act and make decisions.
Heroin affects your body. Heroin poses special problems for those who inject it because of the risks of HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles. These health problems can be passed on to sexual partners and newborns.1
Heroin is super-addictive. Heroin is highly addictive because it enters the brain so rapidly. It particularly affects those regions of the brain responsible for producing physical dependence.
Heroin is not what it may seem. Despite the glamorization of "heroin chic" in films, fashion, and music, heroin use can have tragic consequences that extend far beyond its users. Fetal effects, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, violence, and crime are all linked to its use.
Heroin can kill you Heroin is one of the top three frequently reported drugs by medical examiners in drug abuse deaths.2
KNOW THE RISKS Know the law. Heroin is an illegal Schedule I drug, meaning that it is in the group of the most highly addictive drugs.
Get the facts. In the 1990's, hospital emergency department episodes involving heroin nearly quadrupled among youths ages 12-17.3
Stay informed. The untimely deaths of several popular musicians and other celebrities may have influenced many young people to stay away from heroin use, but to others, the dangers are still not clear. The average age of first use was 21.3 in 1998.4
Know the risks. Because the strength of heroin varies and its impact is more unpredictable when used with alcohol or other drugs, the user never knows what might happen with the next dose.
Look around you. The vast majority of teens are not using heroin. According to a 1999 national study, only 2 percent report ever having tried it.
KNOW THE SIGNS
How can you tell if a friend is using heroin? Signs and symptoms of heroin use are:
Impaired mental functioning
Slowed down respiration
Signs of a heroin overdose include:
What can you do to help a friend who is using heroin? Be a real friend. You might even save a life. Encourage your friend to stop or seek professional help. For information and referrals, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 800-729-6686.
DID YOU KNOW?
Q.Isn't heroin a less dangerous drug if you snort or smoke it instead of injecting it? A. No. Heroin is heroin. There is no safe way of ingesting it. You can still die from an overdose or become addicted by snorting or smoking it.
Q. Can withdrawal from heroin kill you?
A. Although it is seldom fatal, withdrawal from heroin produces drug cravings, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms that usually last about a week, but may last for many months.
Q. Will heroin use alter my brain?
A.Yes. Heroin enters the neurons or cells of the brain and changes the speed of the chemicals in the brain. It not only affects your brain physically, but also affects the way you think.
KNOW ITS SHORT-TERM EFFECTS
The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria ("rush") accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes "on the nod," an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Other effects included slowed and slurred speech, slow gait, constricted pupils, droopy eyelids, impaired night vision, vomiting, constipation.
KNOW ITS LONG-TERM EFFECTS
Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulites, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heron's depressing effects on respiration. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not really dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped. Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), kicking movements ("kicking the habit"), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last does and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can be fatal.
KNOW ITS FEDERAL CLASSIFICATION
Heroin is a Schedule I drug.
To learn more about heroin or obtain referrals to programs in your community, contact:
Governor’s Commission for a Drug-Free Indiana,
a division of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute
SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
linea gratis en español 877-767-8432
Web site: http://www.health.org/
The bottom line: If you know someone who uses heroin, urge him or her to stop or get help. If you use heroin--stop! The longer you ignore the real facts, the more chances you take with your life.
It's never too late. Talk to your parents, a doctor, a counselor, a teacher, or another adult you trust.
Do it today!