WHAT IS HEROIN?
Heroin is a highly addictive drug and it is a rapidly acting opioid.
WHAT IS ITS ORIGIN?
Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring
substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties
of poppy plants grown in:
Mexico, South America, Southwest Asia (Afghanistan
and Pakistan), and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos,
and Myanmar (Burma))
Heroin comes in several forms, primarily white powder
from Mexico and South America; and “black tar” and brown
powder from Mexico.
What are common street names?
Common street names for heroin include:
Big H, Black Tar, Chiva, Hell Dust, Horse, Negra,
Smack, and Thunder
What does it look like?
Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder, or as
the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar
heroin.” Although purer heroin is becoming more common,
most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances
such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine.
How is it abused?
Heroin can be injected, smoked, or sniffed/snorted. High purity
heroin is usually snorted or smoked.
What is its effect on the mind?
Because it enters the brain so rapidly, heroin is particularly
addictive, both psychologically and physically. Heroin users
report feeling a surge of euphoria or “rush,” followed by a
twilight state of sleep and wakefulness.
What is its effect on the body?
One of the most significant effects of heroin use is addiction.
With regular heroin use, tolerance to the drug develops. Once
this happens, the person must use more heroin to achieve the
same intensity. As higher doses of the drug are used over time,
physical dependence and addiction to the drug develop.
Effects of heroin use include:
Drowsiness, respiratory depression, constricted pupils,
nausea, a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and
What are its overdose effects?
Because heroin users do not know the actual strength of
the drug or its true contents, they are at a high risk of overdose
The effects of a heroin overdose are:
Slow and shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails,
clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death
Which drugs cause similar effects?
Other opioids such as OxyContin® , Vicodin® , codeine,
morphine, methadone, and fentanyl can cause similar effects as heroin.
What is its legal status in the United States?
Heroin is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled
Substances Act meaning that it has a high potential for abuse,
no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United
States, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical
SOURCE: A DEA Resource Guide 2017 Edition