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How Do People Use Heroin?

Person wondering how people use heroin

Heroin can be used in several ways, but all methods are dangerous. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin, the heroin rehab center at Vertava Health can help. Contact us today at 844.470.0410 to learn about our treatment options.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug processed from morphine. In its pure form, it’s a white, bitter powder. The pure form is mainly smoked and snorted. Powdered heroin is commonly cut or adulterated with other substances. When this occurs, the color of the drug changes, taking on a brownish tint.

Heroin is also found in another form called black tar heroin. As the name suggests, the appearance is thick, dark-colored, and either sticky or hard. The color and form occur from the impurities which result from the manufacturing process. Due to the impurities and lesser quality, many injection drug users choose to inject black tar.

How Does Heroin Work?

Opioid drugs work on your body and brain by attaching to opioid receptors. When this occurs, you experience a pain-relieving effect. Recreational drug users seek to induce another feeling from this chemical brain stimulation.

Heroin, like other opioids, creates an intensely pleasurable state of euphoria. Heroin also depresses your central nervous system. This is one reason why it’s such a dangerous drug.

How Do People Use Heroin?

How. do people use heroin? The methods of heroin use vary. Each route of administration has specific signs of use and unique risks:

Injecting Heroin Intravenously (IV)

To prepare for injection, the user liquefies and dissolves the heroin by diluting and heating or “cooking” it. It is then loaded into the syringe. Shared needles increase the risk of transmissible diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C. Injection can also cause abscesses, track marks, and other infections within certain soft tissues.

This can lead to:

  • Clogged vessels
  • Cellular infection or death in specific organs
  • An immune response that can cause arthritis and similar illnesses
  • Collapsed veins
  • Scarring
  • Necrotizing fasciitis (sometimes referred to as flesh-eating bacteria), which causes tissue death

Heroin can also be injected into the muscle (intramuscularly) or directly beneath the skin (subcutaneously or “skin popping”).

Smoking Heroin

Users place the heroin (typically black tar) on aluminum foil, or the top of a pop can and heat it with a lighter. They then inhale the vapors with a straw or hollowed-out pen. This is referred to as “chasing the dragon.”

The following dangers are associated with smoking heroin:

  • Pulmonary (lung) function becomes compromised
  • An uncomfortable shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Severe and repeated asthma attacks (status asthmaticus)
  • Cause leukoencephalopathy, a serious disease that causes parts of your brain and spinal cord to deteriorate

Sniffing/Snorting Heroin (Insufflation)

These methods are sometimes referred to as insufflation. To prepare, users draw the drug into lines with a razor or credit card on a hard surface like a mirror. They then use a straw, hollow pen, or rolled dollar bill to inhale it into their nasal cavity.

It can cause significant damage to the nose and surrounding areas, including:

  • Bone loss
  • Creating a hole in the septum (area between your nostrils)
  • Chronic nosebleeds
  • Collapsed nasal passages
  • Constant runny nose
  • Perforation (hole) in the roof or back of your mouth
  • Saddleback nose (a broad, flattened nose)

Find Help at Vertava Health

No matter how you use heroin, you’re putting yourself at risk for addiction. Is heroin taking over and ruining you or a loved one’s life? We can help you beat a heroin addiction and find sobriety. Contact Vertava Health to find the best heroin rehab center for your needs. Call us now at 844.470.0410.