What Is Heroin?
Heroin is a drug that comes from a flower, the opium poppy, which usually grows in Mexico, Asia, and South America. It’s very addictive and has been illegal in the United States since 1924. It can look like a white or brown powder, or a sticky black “tar.” It’s also called horse, smack, junk, and brown sugar.
How Heroin Is Used
Many people smoke or snort heroin. Most users inject it into their veins. That’s the most dangerous way to take it, because it’s easier to overdose and you can catch a disease from a dirty needle.
No matter how you take it, heroin gets to your brain quickly. It’s also easy to get addicted. Even after you use it just one or two times, it can be hard to stop yourself from using again. Learn more about why heroin is so addictive.
Right after you take heroin, you get a rush of good feelings and happiness. Then, for several hours, you feel as if the world has slowed down. You think slowly and may walk slowly. Some users say you feel like you’re in a dream.
Why Are More People Using Heroin?
The number of people in the United States who use heroin has risen steadily since 2007.
One thing that plays a role in the rise is the growing abuse of prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are also made from the poppy plant and are chemically related to heroin. People who misuse these drugs may start looking for a stronger, cheaper high. Heroin is both. But it’s also more dangerous. There’s no way to know what you’re taking or how strong it is.
The U.S. heroin overdose death rate rose nearly 400% between 2010 and 2017. Some of these deaths happen because heroin is laced with other drugs, such as the powerful painkiller fentanyl.