Heroin is an illicit substance. It is derived from the seeds of the poppy plant. It can come as a black, stick substance (known as black tar heroin), and it can also look like a white or brownish powder. The powder form of this drug can be snorted, the solid form can be smoked, and the soluble form can be injected.
Heroin is a part of the class of drugs known as opioids. Just like other opioids – including prescription pain medications – it attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain and changes the way the body responds to both pain and pleasure.
The side effects of heroin vary. Pleasurable effects can include increased energy, relaxation, and euphoria. However, like all drugs, there are also negative side effects associated with this drug, including:
- Mental confusion
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Severe itching
- Weight loss
- Heavy feeling in the limbs
- Slipping in and out of consciousness
The more a person takes heroin, the more his or her tolerance will grow. When tolerance increases, a person has to take more of the substance in order to feel the effects. Taking higher doses increases the risk of adverse effects and overdose, and even death.