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The use of heroin continues to climb in most areas. The number of varieties and sources of heroin
available, combined with an increased domestic demand make the heroin market the fastest growing drug
market reported. While there are indications of increased use of heroin among younger, suburban users, it
is the cadre of older, inner-city heroin users that drive the heroin market (DEA 1996). Almost all areas
report that the majority of heroin users are older drug users (over 30) who have been using for many years.
However, many areas are reporting an increase in the number of new or younger users.
Heroin, Its Effects and Treatment
Heroin (AKA: smack, horse, mud, brown sugar) has been a part of the drug culture for many years. It is
primarily used through injection causing wide spread concerns for everyone. Syringes lost or left behind
by users carry disease and narcotics which can effect anyone who comes in contact with them. Syringes
from heroin addicts have been found at bus benches, vacant lots by schools, alleyways and public
bathrooms. Diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, and tetanus are common amongst heroin addicts (Strategy
Heroin is an opiate or a downer and is made from the resin taken from the seed pod of the poppy plant. The
resin is processed in a variety of ways resulting in the final product known as heroin . The processing
method determines the appearance of heroin as it is seen on the street. Black tar heroin looks like tootsie
roll candy and/or dark caramel and has a strong vinegar odor to it. Black Tar heroin is packaged in small
pieces of aluminum foil, tightly wrapped plastic and/or cellophane from cigarette packages.
"The heroin affects the brainís pleasure and pain system. It interferes with the brainís ability to perceive
pain and activates the brainís pleasure system. The drug is fast acting, especially when injected or smoked.
Injected heroin reaches the brain in 15-30 seconds, smoked heroin reaches the brain in 7 seconds" (Mckim,
Non-intravenous heroin doesnít give nearly as intense a rush and so is thought to be less addicting. People
who snort heroin can often do so on and off for long periods of time without becoming strongly addicted.
This occasional use of heroin is called
"chipping" and it seems that some lucky people can remain successful chippers over months or even years.
Unfortunately, a high percentage of chippers become addicts. Most junkies begin as chippers with no
thought that they would ever become addicts (Drug Free, 1996).
With the preferred method of heroin use being injection, you will generally see certain types of
paraphernalia. This paraphernalia will include, but is not limited to, spoons with residue in the spoon along
with a piece of cotton, the bottom side of the spoon having burn marks and the handle being bent
downward somewhat. Syringes are also included in this paraphernalia along with soda bottle caps, which
have the same use as the spoons. The spoons or caps are used to dilute and liquefy the heroin. The cotton
in the spoon is for filtering the heroin as it is drawn into the syringe.
To put a perspective on heroin, morphine is one of the strongest legal pain killers known and heroin is five
times stronger. Heroin tends to relax the user. An immediate rush usually will occur and sometimes be
accompanied by side effects such as restlessness, nausea and vomiting. A user of heroin may go on the
"nod". This is best described as going back and forth from feeling alert to drowsy. Due to the use of
needles with this drug, infections and abscesses on the body are common. Heroin users will normally have
injuries that have been left unattended due to the drugs pain killing abilities. Addiction usually leads to
malnutrition and weight loss. A person addicted to heroin may look like they are in a daze, almost to the
point of sleep, have a dry mouth,
low raspy voice, droopy eyelids, profuse itching, and fresh puncture marks or sores covering their body
The greatest risks of being a heroin addict is death from heroin overdose. Each year about one percent of all
heroin addicts in the United States die from an overdose of heroin despite having developed a
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