What is Heroin?
An opioid drug, that is derived from the Asian opium
Heroin is a form of morphine.
What does is look like?
It is usually in the form of a white or brown powder.
“In 2011, 4.2 million Americans aged
12 or older (or 1.6 percent) had used
heroin at least once in their lives”.
How is it used?
Heroin can be injected into the veins by a needle.
It can also be snorted, or one could smoke it.
*IT DOESN’T MATTER WHICH WAY IT IS USED, ALL
FORMS ARE ABSORBED RAPIDLY IN THE BLOOD
Issues with needles
Heroin users have a high risk for HIV and Hepatitis C
due to using dirty needles and from sharing needles.
Local pharmacies now sell needles and syringes to
anyone that asks for them.
This is to try to decrease the use of dirty needles, and
to promote the use of clean needles.
Heroin & the Brain
Heroin is able to pass the blood brain barrier very quickly
after being administered.
When heroin reaches the brain, it binds to the opioid
receptors which effect the perception of pain.
Heroin causes a euphoric and relaxing effect on the body.
Dependence and tolerance can occur with subsequent use
Prolonged use of heroin can change the functional level of
Study conducted about the effects of
Brain imagining was completed immediately after the
administration of heroin to some participants and
after administration of a placebo to other
Heroin was shown to cause decreased perfusion of
blood to the brain. The placebo did not display any
signs of decreased perfusion.
Overtime, this may cause permanent decreased brain
Health issues related to Heroin Use
Infection of the heart lining
Clogged blood vessels
Treatment of Heroin Addiction
Buprenorphine and Methadone- bind to the opioid
Naltrexone- prevents heroin from having an effect on
the body by blocking the opioid receptors.
Naloxone- treats heroin overdose
The use of Methadone
Many pregnant women who are addicted to heroin
will switch to methadone as a safer drug for their
Studies have shown that this method does in fact
have less side effects on the fetus.
However, the use of methadone requires a strict
schedule that cannot be broken. If a patient does
not show up for methadone treatments frequently,
this program may be discontinued for them.
Denier, N., Gerber, H., Vogel, M., Klarhöfer, M.,
Riecher-Rossler, A., Wiesbeck, G. A., & ... Walter,
M. (2013). Reduction in Cerebral Perfusion after
Heroin Administration: A Resting State Arterial
Spin Labeling Study. Plos ONE, 8(9), 1-8.
DrugFacts: Heroin. (2013, April 1).National Institute on
Drug Abuse (NIDA). Retrieved February 20, 2014,
Hulse, G. K., & Milne, E. E. (1997). The relationship between
maternal use of heroin and
methadone and infant birth weight. Addiction, 92(11),