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Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline

Freephone: 0808 808 2234
Or text DAN to: 81066
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Heroin

H, Brown, smack, gear, junk, skag, horse, China white, dragon, toot.

If you don't find what you're looking for you can always ring the DAN 24/7 helpline on 0808 808 2234 and talk confidentially to an advisor.

What does Heroin look like?

Licit:
Pharmaceutically manufactured heroin is a pure white powder, which can be made into Tablets and Ampoules, or as a Linctus.

Illicit:
Commonly a beige or brown powder. Or more rarely as a white powder (Chinese no. 4, or 'China White').

Heroin as a brown powder

Scientific Names

Diamorphine Hydrochloride, Diacetylmorphine

Generic Name

Heroin. Semi-synthetic opioid derived from morphine

Effects Of Heroin

Desired Effects:

Intense Rush, euphoria, exhilaration, relaxation and decreased anxiety, feelings of warm wellbeing.

Side-Effects:

Nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, decreased heart-rate, shallow breathing, Coma sometimes fatal.

Risks

Short-term:

Tolerance and Overdose, problems may also arise from impurities if heroin is injected, such as dizziness, headache, loss of coordination, nausea, as well as risks from injecting like abscess and collapsed veins.

Long-term:

Dependence and in long term users there can be a risk of failing to take normal care of the body as heroin is a very effective pain killer and appetite suppressant.

Injection of impure heroin - typical UK purity rates range from 10% to 40% - can damage circulatory system, leading to abscesses, ulcers, thrombosis, etc.

Unsterile injection practices increase the risk of blood borne diseases such as Septicaemia, Hepatitis C, and HIV.

Reducing Harm

Information to help with Reducing Harm when using Heroin

How does Heroin work?

Central nervous system Depressant, Analgesic.

Legal status of Heroin

Class A under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

How Is Heroin Taken?

Snorted up the nose, smoked from Tinfoil ('Tooting', 'chasing' or 'chasing the dragon') or mixed with tobacco in a hand-rolled cigarette, or injected.

Paraphernalia

If snorted:
Razor blade, hard level surface (such as a mirror or glass), tube or rolled banknote.

If smoked:
Tinfoil, matches or lighter, cigarette papers, tobacco.

If injected:
Needle and Syringe, water, Citric acid, matches or lighter, spoon, Tourniquet, Swabs.

Medical uses of Heroin

In it's pharmaceutical form as DiaMorphine to treat extreme pain eg. terminal cancer.

Where does it come from?

Heroin is derived from the Opium poppy, which grows in many parts of the world (including Britain). The main centres of illicit production include the border regions of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan (known as the Golden Crescent), and around the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos (known as the Golden Triangle).

Helping services

Heroin users can access support from ‘street agencies’ or projects, sometimes called community drug services or community drug teams, which offer a range of services including information and advice, counselling, detoxification and prescribing for opiate users, needle exchanges and sometimes support groups and other services such as acupuncture. Some may have extended opening hours and may be open at weekends. GPs and hospitals can make referrals to specialist drug services like Drug Dependency Units (DDUs). These are usually located in or adjacent to a hospital and specialise in helping problem drug users, especially people who are dependent on drugs like heroin. They provide counselling, detoxification, substitute prescribing and other treatments. Residential services offer treatment programmes for heavily dependent drug users who are trying to give up. Residents must usually be drug free on admission which means they usually have to undergo detoxification before entry. Programmes usually last 3-6 months, but some 12 steps programmes last longer. The types of programmes vary. Self help groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) co-ordinate local support groups for problem drug users around the country. Families Anonymous run similar groups for the families of drug users. Many heroin users are referred for treatment through the criminal justice system.

Parents & other relatives

Drug agencies also provide lots of advice and support to parents of people using these drugs. Many street agencies can provide relative support groups or counselling for family members, partners etc.

You can view a list of National Drug Agencies.

If you would like to talk about Heroin problems then please call the DAN 24/7 Helpline on:


0808 808 2234
Last updated: 08 July 2014
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