Think you know about heroin? Do you know what it is, how it's taken and what it does to your body?
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, and is usually smoked or injected. Smoking heroin is also called 'chasing the dragon'. A small bit of powder is put onto tin foil and heated from below with a lighter. This turns it into a liquid that gives off smoke, which is then inhaled through a tube. If it's injected, it's dissolved in water first. It can also be snorted, swallowed or smoked with tobacco.
The first time people use heroin, they usually get sick, dizzy and sleepy, but after using it a couple of times your body starts to get used to it. It then 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, and throw up quite a lot too.
Once people are addicted to heroin they get very bad withdrawal symptoms including weakness, sweating, shivering, skin crawling, achey bones, watery eyes, runny stomach and feelings of despair and depression. Heroin is a highly addictive drug and habits can get out of control.
Users also build up a tolerance over time - meaning they need more heroin to get the same hit.
The health effects of heroin generally come from the lifestyle 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's impossible to know how strong a batch of heroin is and as such it's very easy to overdose if an especially strong batch comes in (if you inject). Many heroin deaths happen this way.
If you share needles to inject 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 seven years in prison. For supply, it's life in prison and you can get an unlimited fine for both.