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Heroin is an illegal substance in the opioid class. Other opioids include morphine, codeine, pethidine, buprenorphine and methadone. Heroin is made from the sap of the opium poppy.


Street heroin is usually mixed with other things, therefore, it is hard to know how strong the heroin is. This can lead to accidental overdose or death. Immediate effects The effects of heroin may last up to a few hours and can:. Long term effects If you use heroin often for a long time you may:.

Heroin usually comes in powder form. It can be different colours depending on how refined it is. Heroin is usually injected, smoked or snorted. It is absorbed into the blood and acts on the brain very quickly. Some mixed-in substances may have unpleasant or harmful effects.

How is it used?

It is difficult to tell what additives are actually in the drug. Injecting heroin with unsterile injecting equipment makes you more likely to contract blood borne viruses such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and get blood poisoning septicaemia and skin abscesses sores with pus. NEVER share fits needles and syringesspoons, water, filters, alcohol swabs or tourniquets.

Opioid drugs include opium, morphine and codeine. There are other human-made opioid drugs, such as oxycodone, fentanyl and methadone.

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These drugs can all be used legally, when prescribed for medical reasons, but heroin is not legal in Australia. You are at a higher risk of overdose if you use opioids like heroin at the same time as other drugs. Combining opioids with alcohol, minor tranquillisers or benzodiazepines such as diazepam, Valium or Antenex, alprazolam Xanax or antidepressants can lead to overdose and death. Overdose of heroin dropping is very common and can happen to anyone. Even small amounts of heroin may cause some people to overdose — for example, new users or those who have started using again.

This can happen after even a short time of not using. When a person overdoses, they may have: - very slow breathing, or snoring - cold skin and low body temperature - slow heartbeat - muscle twitching - slow working of the central nervous system such as being vague or sleepy - gurgling sound in the throat What does heroin vomit or saliva - blue lips, tips of fingernails or toenails because of low oxygen. Please note: The take home naloxone program includes instructions for performing rescue breathing and chest compressions.

If the person has been mixing heroin with other drugs, tell the NSW Ambulance paramedic exactly what they have taken. Paramedics are there to help.

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Anyone can develop a tolerance to heroin or other drugs. Tolerance means that you must take more of the drug to feel the same effects you used to have with smaller amounts. Dependence on heroin means that it takes up a lot of your thoughts, emotions and activities.

Drug addiction: it is a health concern

You spend a lot of time thinking about using heroin, looking for heroin, using it and getting over the effects of using it. You also find it difficult to stop using or control how much you use. Dependence can lead to a variety of health, money, legal, work and relationship problems. People who are dependent on heroin find it very hard to stop using or cut down because of withdrawal symptoms.

These can begin to occur only a few hours after last using heroin. If you are experiencing problems with withdrawal, contact your doctor or health centre. Using heroin during pregnancy can affect both the mother and the unborn. Heroin taken by a pregnant woman crosses the cord, and can affect fetal development. It increases the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome SIDS.

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Inform antenatal staff of heroin use and attend regular antenatal checkups. There are specialist services available in NSW as well. Regular checkups are important because heroin-dependent women are more likely than other women to:. Babies can also have problems after they are born. The baby of a heroin-dependent mother may also be born dependent, and have to go through a withdrawal following birth. In severe cases, medication may be necessary.

It is important to get help from health staff on how to care for your baby. Heroin passes into breast milk, and can cause further adverse effects on a breast-fed baby. It is generally risky to take any drug while breastfeeding without medical advice. Using heroin is illegal. If you use, sell or give heroin to someone else and get caught, you could face substantial fines and penalties including a prison sentence.

Many overseas countries eg. Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand have much harsher penalties — including the death penalty — for people who break their drug laws. If you are convicted on a drug charge you then What does heroin a criminal record. This What does heroin cause many other problems such as trouble getting a job, a credit card, or a visa to travel overseas.

Heroin makes it more difficult to drive safely, especially when it is taken with alcohol. It is illegal to drive under the influence of drugs, including heroin. If you break this law you could lose your licence for a set time, or be fined.

Anyone under the influence of heroin who kills or injures another person while driving a motor vehicle, can be sentenced to a term in prison. For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drugs 24 hours, 7 days a week, call the National Alcohol and Other Drugs Hotline It will automatically direct you to the Alcohol and Drug Service in the state or territory you are calling from. The COVID pandemic continues to change lives in many different ways, to support the community we have developed a range of alcohol and other drug specific resources to help you with accessing services and support you with any stress and anxiety you may be experiencing.

We will continue to update this as new resources and information becomes available. For information on access to free naloxone opioid overdose reversing medicinevisit ' Take home naloxone — a key component in COVID preparedness '. What are my rights when negotiating my treatment during this time?

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People who test positive for COVID and are currently undergoing treatment for alcohol and other drug dependence can continue with their program. Talk to your service provider to discuss your treatment in the event you test positive. The app is a useful tool in this time of social distancing and isolation as it provides you with an opportunity to manage your alcohol consumption in times of stress and anxiety. The Get Healthy Service Alcohol Reduction Program is also available for people who want to reduce their alcohol consumption to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and a healthier lifestyle.

The Alcohol Reduction Program is open to anyone aged 18 years and over. The fact sheet provides advice and information on protecting your health while using drugs during the COVID pandemic. In this time of unprecedented concern about our collective health and livelihoods, it is more important than ever to remain socially connected and physically healthy. There is no excuse for violence and abuse. If you or someone you care about is experiencing domestic and family violence there are services available to provide support. If you or anyone else is in What does heroin danger, please call Police on triple zero.

Women can also contact the NSW Domestic Violence Line on 65 64 63 for support, counselling and referral to ongoing support. The service is free, confidential and open to anyone affected by alcohol and other drugs, including people concerned about their own use, or about a family member or friend. Web chat is only available for people living in NSW. To start a web chat counselling session read and accept the 'Terms and Conditions of Use' below.

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Alternatively, if you would like to speak to a drug and alcohol counsellor over the phone, please call the National Alcohol and Other Drug helpline on which will direct you to your state service. Monday to Friday 8. The NSW Opioid Treatment Program OTPalso known as opioid agonist treatment or opioid substitution treatment, provides pharmacotherapy and support services to people with an opioid dependence.

Treatment may be provided as a short term measure to assist people to stop using other opioids, or for long term maintenance. The OTP is provided through public clinics, private clinics, general practitioners GPs and community pharmacies, and correctional facilities, and may be provided alongside other treatments such as counselling or residential rehabilitation.

The pharmacotherapy medicines used in the NSW OTP are methadone, buprenorphine — including What does heroin buprenorphine, given in an injection under the skin weekly or monthly — and buprenorphine-naloxone. When some people experience pain, both physical and or psychological, they may rely on opioids to make their body and mind feel better. People who are dependent on opioids find it very hard to stop using or cut down because of withdrawal symptoms.

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Stopping opioid use abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms, these can begin to occur within only a few hours after last use. Some people may experience withdrawal after they have been on strong medicines prescribed by their doctor, such as oxycodone Endone or codeine. While others may experience it after using illicit drugs like heroin.

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Dependence is a medical condition, regardless of how people become dependent or what drug they use, everyone is entitled to treatment. Methadone, buprenorphine and buprenorphine-naloxone belong to a group of sedating and strong pain-killing drugs called opioids. Both methadone and buprenorphine are long-acting opioids, therefore only one dose per day is usually needed to prevent the uncomfortable symptoms of opioid withdrawal.

Methadone and buprenorphine may also be prescribed by clinicians to patients to treat severe or chronic pain or in palliative care settings. The effects of methadone and buprenorphine can include relief from pain and a feeling of wellbeing, but can also cause nausea, sleepiness and long term use can have effects on male reproductive health, libido and cause sweating and constipation.

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Buprenorphine is effective at blocking the effect of other opioids, as it binds tightly to the opioid receptors in the brain. It comes in three different forms, a tablet Subutex or film Suboxone which are dissolved under the tongue, and a long acting injection depot- Buvidal and Sublocade.

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For depot buprenorphine, injections last a week or a month. Buprenorphine may also be mixed with naloxone buprenorphine-naloxone to discourage people injecting. Patients can access treatment through public drug and alcohol services, private clinics, GPs and community pharmacies. The type of treatment they access will depend on the complexity of the care they need and their location.

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Heroin is a white or brown powder or a black, sticky goo.


Heroin is the common name for the psychoactive drug, diacetylmorphine.


Drugs made from opium are called opiates, and are often used as painkillers.


Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.