Heroin is highly addictive and dangerousHeroin is an illegal opiate street drug classified by the DEA as Class I Schedule drug. Users typically inject heroin directly into the veins to produce an intense rush. Heroin abuse numbs the brain’s nerve receptors, mimicking the behavior of endorphins while depressing central nervous system function. Overtime, addicts not only abuse heroin to feel good, but also to avoid the drug’s intense withdrawal symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, and skin-crawling sensations. Since heroin is injected, users are at increased risk for contracting hepatitis C and HIV from unclean needle sharing. Heroin is a Schedule I controlled substance.

Level 5 - Extreme Danger

Societal impact: 5

Heroin is relatively cheap and easy to find. Large scale law enforcement efforts are necessary to deter its sale and use.

Recreational value: 4

Heroin produces an intense high felt immediately after injection. Since heroin suppresses the central nervous system and numbs pain sensations, users forget painful memories and feel completely relaxed.

Physical/emotional impact: 5

Since it is difficult to determine the purity or strength of heroin, there is a high risk of overdose every time an individual uses the drug. Users frequently share needles, increasing the risk for Hepatitis C and HIV contraction.

Potential for addictiveness: 5

Heroin is extremely addictive; it’s near instantaneous impact on the body increases this risk for addiction after just one use. With repeated abuse, heroin users become entirely reliant on the drug to feel any positive emotions. Because of the punishing withdrawal symptoms, users continue to abuse heroin in order to avoid these side effects. Medically supervised detox and rehab is necessary.

The Heroin Abuse Problem

Heroin abuse is deadly to the user. It’s very difficult to assess the true strength or purity of the drug, making every use the potential final use. But heroin doesn’t just effect the user and their family. It’s also an international political problem – poppy production in troubled geopolitical zones like Afghanistan and Southeast Asia contributes to the death and imprisonment of hundreds of people every year. With Mexican cartels moving into heroin production, this situation has only grown worse. Heroin is a perfect example of how “personal” drug use causes ripples that impact lives around the globe. If you need help with heroin abuse, or know someone who does, it’s not too late to get help. Take our assessments, and use the Treatment Center Locator tool to find help that can work – before it’s too late.