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Heroin is a highly addictive synthetic opiate and is made from morphine, a natural substance from the poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a brown or white powder, or as a black sticky substance, known as black tar heroin. Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted. All of these methods can immediately lead to a person being heroin-addicted. When heroin enters the body, it is turned into morphine and immediately starts affecting specific parts of the brain. More specifically it can affect the parts of the brain that control breathing, blood pressure, and arousal. An overdose involves the suppression of respiration. That is why there are heroin detox centers to help someone with heroin addiction.

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Heroin is not as prominent as other drugs in Canada. Less than one percent of Canadians who were surveyed had used any heroin. And in 2005, there were less than one heroin-related drug arrests. However, there were over six thousand heroin-related hospitalizations in 2002. On those, psychotic behavior or some other sort of mental disorders were often seen. And the injection of heroin also comes with a serious risk, 27% of Canadians who inject drugs use borrowed syringes. This is seen very often in Regina, Quebec, and Ottawa. This is why it is important to get heroin addicts to attend a drug rehab program of some kind to help them get over their addiction.

Heroin is a drug used as a painkiller and used recreationally. It is made from morphine, which originally came from the opium poppy. It can be found in both the crystalline form and the white powder form (freebase heroin). It is very addictive, no matter how it used. Plus, people using heroin a lot tend to develop a physical tolerance for the drug. But even though it is not at all good for the body, heroin in a small dosage has been known to reduce fevers.

Some of the symptoms of heroin use and abuse are that they might get episodes of delirium or drowsiness. He might start feeling confused at times and have somnolence episodes. It can be dangerous because the person can start having trouble breathing and do hypotension. He can also get rashes, and his skin could start to itch abnormally. His mouth might also get more dry than usual. These symptoms show just how crucial it is to help those addicts by getting them into a drug rehab before it is too late.

When a person goes through withdrawal after having used heroin, several symptoms can occur. When you stop using heroin, the symptoms can start showing up even after only six hours of having stopped. You might start feeling anxiety or even depression because of the withdrawal. Physically, you might feel cramped in some of the limbs and feel like your body is very heavy. You might experience cold sweats, muscle aches, and even bone aches. Fever can also show up, which can dehydrate you. This is why a lot of people need to go to drug rehab centers so that they can successfully go through an addiction treatment for their heroin dependency.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug. It is the most abused addictive substance on the streets. Heroin is made from morphine which is extracted from the Asian poppy plant.

Heroin is normally sold as a white or brownish powder or as a black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin.”

Heroin Street Use: This substance can be injected, snorted (sniffed), or smoked (chased). The injection is the most common method used to deliver its effects rapidly as the drug travels through the bloodstream. When injected, the entire amount of heroin enters the bloodstream at once, increasing the risk of overdose. Snorting means to inhale the substance so it can travel through the bloodstream where it is absorbed by the tissues in the nose. The third method is to smoke the substance which also passes into the bloodstream. Snorting and “chasing” can also lead to an overdose. All three ways are potentially life-threatening where it can cause long term problems or even death.

Heroin Street Name:”smack”, “junk”, “dope”

Heroin Effects: Heroin users often report feelings of warmth, well being, euphoria, and contentment. Other effects include anxiety, mood swings, confusion, paranoia, or a “rush” type of feeling which is followed by a relaxed content state.

Since opiates are painkillers, heroin can reduce or eliminate pain. It can also lead to unconsciousness.

Risks associated with using heroin include becoming violently ill, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, cramps, loss of appetite (malnutrition), drowsiness, constricted pupils, watery eyes, itching, slow or shallow breathing, rapid heart rate, ringing in the ears or head, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and even death.

With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect as before. 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 will occur if use is reduced or stopped.

Heroin Dependency: Highly addictive.

Heroin Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms: Heroin withdrawal symptoms are some of the nastiest an addict can experience compared to withdrawal from any other drugs. The individual who has become physically as well as psychologically dependent on heroin will experience extreme withdrawal with abrupt discontinuation of use or even a decrease in their daily amount of heroin taken. The onset of heroin withdrawal symptoms begins six to eight hours after the last dose is administrated. Major heroin withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose of heroin and subdue after about one week. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal produced are similar to a case of bad flu.

Symptoms of heroin addiction withdrawal include but are not limited to:

  • Dilated pupils
  • piloerection (goosebumps)
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Panic
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Profuse sweating
  • Irritability
  • jitteriness

Heroin Legal Status: Heroin is an illegal substance


Heroin addiction has been present in Canada for a very long time. In 2004, a survey was made and it was found that almost 1 % of the Canadian population had used heroin. Furthermore, in 2003, according to a study, 26 % of the injection drug users were injecting heroin. In 1999, a survey made in Toronto, Ontario revealed that 11 % of the youth said they were struggling with heroin addiction. When it comes to drug abuse treatment in Toronto,  about 2 % of the people admitted into drug rehab centers reported heroin addiction which is better compared to 11 % a decade before. In Ontario, the percentage of heroin lifetime use is almost 1 %, which is the same as the national average while Northwestern Ontario has a rate of 2.4, which is more than double.

Compared to the rest of the Canadian provinces, statistics show a higher rate of heroin addiction in British Columbia. The Northwest Territories is also a bit higher than other provinces with a rate of 1.2 %. In Nova Scotia, the heroin addiction problem is not as present as other parts of Canada; 0.2 % tried heroin at least once in their lifetime. In Alberta, but mostly in Edmonton and Calgary, heroin addiction does exist. The rate of heroin abuse is a little under 2% and seeing as heroin is addictive in nature, a high percentage of those people are experiencing heroin addiction.

The province of Quebec also has a situation with heroin drug addiction and those drug users are in dire need of help. In 2004, a study showed that 1.3 % of the people between 12 and 17 years had used heroin in the last year, with boys having a higher rate than girls. In 2003, a survey was done with the youth on the streets of the city of Montreal, and almost 42 % of them had used heroin during their lives. Over 7 % of them stated that they kept using that drug thus developed a heroin addiction.

Heroin is a very addictive drug which very often, due to its side effects, also creates problems for the people around the addict.  When somebody starts using heroin, even if it is just for recreational use, the person will easily develop a heroin addiction that could be very hard to quit.


Short-term effects: Apart from overdosing, the major issue with short-term use of any opiate is the way it is consumed. For instance, injecting heroin can cause skin, heart and lung infections, and diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.

Long-term effects: There are some long-term heroin effects such as dependence, constipation, menstrual irregularity, and infertility in women, loss of sex drive in men, intense sadness, and cognitive impairment. Numerous other long-term issues may be the result of other factors, such as the person’s poor general self-care, drug impurities and contaminants, and blood-borne viruses. Heroin is generally a mixture of pure heroin and other substances, like caffeine and sugar. Additives can be extremely poisonous. They can lead to collapsed veins, tetanus, abscesses, and damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and brain.


Fast Facts: Children as young as 13 years old have been abusing heroin. According to statistics in 1999, heroin overdose has caused more fatalities than traffic accidents.

The 1999 National Household Survey on substance abuse (NHSDA) estimated that there were 149,000 new heroin users in 1998 and that almost 80 percent were under the age of 26.

Last year, there were about 84,000 admissions to emergency rooms in the US due to heroin drug abuse.

More than 80% of heroin users consume with a partner, yet 80% of overdose victims found by paramedics are alone.

The heroin addict uses between 150 – 250 milligrams per day, divided into 3 doses.

He/she spends between $150 to $200 daily to maintain a heroin addiction.

In 1998, 65% of the heroin confiscated in the country originated in South America, and 17% came from Mexico.

Information from the 1999 National Household Survey on substance abuse suggests purity is partly responsible for the 75% of new heroin users who are snorting or smoking, not injecting the opiate. In 1991 the number of new users was 46%.

The 1999 NHSDA survey estimated the average age for initiation of heroin use to just above 21 years old. Other surveys and experts have reported that several new users are between 18 to 25 years old.

According to Drug Abuse Warning Network, or DAWN, heroin and morphine accounted for 51% of substance fatalities ruled accidental or unexpected in 1999.

Out of the 11,651 deaths accidental and intentional by way of suicide reported to DAWN by medical examiners in 1999, the most recent year for which complete statistics are accessible, 4,820 were the result of heroin or morphine abuse or some combination of those and other substances. In 2000, as part of DAWN’s year-end emergency information report, heroin-related emergency room admissions increased 15% from the prior year.

Drug rehab treatment admission percentages for primary heroin addiction, raised in publicly funded substance abuse treatment facilities across the nation between 1993 and 1999. In 1993, the treatment admission rate for primary heroin abuse in the country was 95 admissions per 100,000 individuals age 12 or older. By 1996, the admission rate had risen 7% to 102 per 100,000 and by 1999 it had boosted by another 3% to 105 per 100,000.


Heroin detox is typically medically supervised and assisted, depending on the severity of the individual’s heroin addiction. This is normally the first step to get a person detoxed off of heroin. The next step is going to a heroin rehab center.


Most drug rehab and medical detox centers are equipped to handle a person withdrawing from heroin. A heroin addiction withdrawal can be painful for the addict and can last between 7 to 14 days, depending on how much was used, length of time, and frequency of use. Typical withdrawal symptoms will occur within 6 to 24 hours after a person has stopped using heroin. The degree of the symptoms will fluctuate from user to user, depending on how much was used and how often. The user’s tolerance for the drug will also determine the severity of their withdrawal symptoms. It is important for the individual to be in a heroin detox facility while undergoing the drug’s withdrawal. The following symptoms will take place:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Feelings of heaviness
  • Cramps in the limbs
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Restless leg syndrome

Many users will complain of a painful condition called itchy blood. This problem will cause the user to scratch themselves compulsively, which will cause the skin to break, creating scabs. These scabs can, later on, get infected and cause further health risks for the person. The sudden termination of heroin consumption can cause dangerous health problems; however, when monitored properly in a heroin detox facility, the individual does not normally experience life-threatening situations. Properly staffed heroin drug rehabilitation programs that have effective detox methods can handle a person withdrawing off of heroin.


Heroin can be associated with many different serious health problems, which is what makes the withdrawal and detoxification from heroin so difficult. People who inject the drug are very likely to contract an infectious disease, such as HIV, Aids or Hepatitis C. Chronic users can develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and pneumonia. Street heroin often contains toxic contaminants or additives that can clog blood vessels leading to permanent damage to vital organs.

Chronic use of heroin will lead to physical dependence and tolerance to the drug, which will lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. These detox symptoms can take effect within a few hours of the user’s last use. The following symptoms can take place:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes
  • Involuntary muscle spasms

The majority of these detox symptoms will peak at about 48 to 72 hours after the last dose. Heroin detox can typically last about one week, depending on the individual’s tolerance and amount being used. Heroin detox is not as life-threatening as alcohol or barbiturate detoxification, but a person in poor health who drastically stops using heroin can be at risk of death.


Heroin trends across the nation are indicators of the percentage of heroin abuse, heroin addiction, domestic violence, and child abuse. The heroin trends for each state has a direct relation to the amount of heroin confiscated by federal authorities.

Works Cited:

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