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Opium was widely used in Ancient Rome. It was openly on sale in the shops and was used for pleasure, pain relief and as a poison.
Think you know about heroin? Do you know what it is, how it's taken and what it does to your body? Find out everything you need to know about heroin here...
Heroin is a browny-white powder sold in paper wraps. It is a processed form of opium. The man-made form of heroin is morphine.
It is sold by the gram or by the bag. Typically, a bag costs ten pounds and is enough for one hit.
Heroin is usually smoked or injected. Smoking is called 'chasing the dragon'. A small bit of powder is put onto tin foil and heated from below with a lighter. It turns into a liquid that gives off smoke. The smoke is inhaled through a tube. If it is injected it is dissolved in water first. It can be snorted (inhaled through the nose) swallowed or smoked with tobacco.
The first time people use heroin, they usually get sick, dizzy and sleepy. After using it a couple of times your body starts to get used to it. Then it makes you feel warm, happy, confident, cosy and content. It gives you a croaky voice and your pupils get really tiny - pinned eyes.
When people take higher doses they start to get very sleepy and can fall asleep mid-sentence. They throw up quite a lot too.
Once people are addicted to heroin they get very bad withdrawal symptoms. Weakness, sweating, shivering, skin crawling, achey bones, watery eyes, runny stomach and feelings of despair and depression. Heroin is a very addictive drug.
The health effects of heroin generally come from the life style that goes with it. Like crack and crystal meth, heroin is a very powerful drug that will gradually wear your life away. Living with a heroin habit is living a nightmare.
Street heroin is never 100% pure and comes cut with all sorts of things that could be dangerous if injected. Worse still, it is impossible to know how strong a batch of heroin is. It is very easy to overdose if an especially strong batch comes in (if you inject). Many heroin deaths happen this way.
If you share needles for injecting you stand a high chance of getting HIV or Hepatitis C. No one should share needles.
Heroin is an illegal class A drug. The maximum penalty for possession is 7 years in prison. For supply it's life in prison. You can get an unlimited fine for both.
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