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Heroin (he-row-in), also known as smack, kit and gear, is an opiate and a naturally occurring painkiller which comes from the opium poppy.
IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW TAKES HEROIN, PLEASE READ THIS FENTANYL ALERT: https://www.cas.dh.gov.uk/ViewandAcknowledgment/ViewAlert.aspx?AlertID=102588
Also, anyone taking heroin, especially those in Glasgow, should be aware of the possibility of contracting the bacterial infection botulism. Drugs can be contaminated with these bacteria at any point, from manufacture to preparation for use. To reduce your chances of contracting botulism make sure you only inject in to a vein, try smoking or using rectally instead of injecting. If you or anyone you know suffers from difficulty speaking or swallowing, blurred vision or extreme weakness then seek medical help immediately.
Heroin is a highly addictive analgesic (pain relieving) drug which can make you feel calm, relaxed and deeply secure. It also lowers your heart rate and breathing and causes drowsiness. People taking it can feel cut off from physical and emotional pain and may experience a feeling of well-being as well as itching, nausea, anxiety and feeling withdrawn.
It comes in an off-white or light to dark brown powder and is usually smoked, heated using foil and inhaled (chasing/burning) or injected.
Purity often varies making it difficult to judge dose and dependency can happen very quickly. Regular users will need larger doses to get the same effect and may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
People who don't take heroin for a while will have a reduced tolerance and are at a higher risk of overdose.
What you Need to Know
If you choose to use heroin:
- Be aware that some heroin has been cut with fentanyl. This is estimated to be 20 times stronger than heroin. Read our section on fentanyl for more information.
- Smoking heroin is less harmful than injecting due to reduced risk of getting blood borne viruses including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. You may also find it easier to control doses.
- Avoid sharing equipment - foil and injecting equipment are available from needle exchanges.
- Use scales to measure dose and dose low.
- Avoid taking it alone. Make sure you are with other people who have naloxone and can call an ambulance in the case of an overdose.
- If injecting: use the smallest needle possible, rotate your sites, wash injecting sites/ hands and never share equipment!
- Avoid other downers like alcohol, methadone, benzos or sleeping tablets as this will increase your risk of overdose
- Naloxone can reverse an opiate overdose - speak to your local drug service to find out more. Or visit: www.naloxone.org.uk. Be aware that it may take multiple doses of naloxone to reverse a fentanyl overdose.
Class A drug. Penalties for possession are up to 7 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Supply holds penalties of up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
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