Injecting the drug can create a risk of AIDS, hepatitis (liver disease) and other diseases caused by infected needles. These health problems can be passed on to sexual partners and newborns. Heroin is one of the three drugs most frequently involved in drug abuse deaths. Violence and crime are linked to its use.
Heroin is usually injected, snorted or smoked. It is highly addictive. Heroin enters the brain rapidly but makes people think and react slowly, impairing their decision-making ability. It causes difficulty in remembering things.
Abusers experience clouded mental functioning, nausea and vomiting. Awareness of pain may be suppressed. Pregnant women can suffer spontaneous abortion. Cardiac (heart) functions slow down and breathing is severely slowed, sometimes to the point of death.
Scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels, heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease. Lung complications may result. Sharing of needles or fluids may result in hepatitis, AIDS and other blood-borne virus diseases.
- European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2007 Annual Report
- “Drug Facts, Did You Know?” Drugs and the Environment, October 2004
- Results from the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Fact Sheet.
- Office of National Drug Control Policy
- “New Initiative Harnesses Power of Teens, Parents to Stop Teen Drug Use,” Media Campaign, News Room, 29 January 2004
- Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, 3 October 2004
- “Help for Parents: Is Your Child Using Drugs? How to Find Out,” Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 12 October 2004
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- UN Office of Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2008
- European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction Statistical Bulletin 2008
- “Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) Highlights—2006”
- “CDC Survey: As Many Teens Smoke Marijuana as Cigarettes, Cigarette Use Dropping Faster,” 5 June 2008