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Last updated : December 10, 2018
Heroin is part of a group of drugs known as opioids. Opioids interact with opioid receptors in the brain and elicit a range of responses within the body; from feelings of pain relief, to relaxation, pleasure and contentment.1
Heroin comes in different forms, including:
Smack, gear, hammer, the dragon, H, dope, junk, harry, horse, black tar, white dynamite, homebake, china white, Chinese H, poison, Dr Harry1
Heroin is usually injected into a vein, but it’s also smoked (‘chasing the dragon’), and added to cigarettes and cannabis. The effects are usually felt straight away. The effects take around 10 to 15 minutes if snorted.2
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug.
Heroin affects everyone differently, based on:
You will experience the below effects, which will last for 3 to 5 hours:
If injecting drugs there is an increased risk of:
If sharing needles there is an increased risk of:
If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you could overdose. If you have any of the symptoms below, call an ambulance straight away by dialling triple zero (000). Ambulance officers don’t need to involve the police.
Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) reverses the effects of heroin, particularly in the case of an overdose.
In the days after heroin use, the following may be experienced:
Regular use of heroin may eventually cause:
The effects of taking heroin with other drugs – including over-the-counter or prescribed medications – can be unpredictable and dangerous, and could cause:
Giving up heroin after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms usually start within 6 to 24 hours after the last dose and can last for about a week – days 1 to 3 will be the worst. These symptoms can include: