The most common synonyms are:
Central nervous system depressant:
|Mechanism of action|
|Routes of administration|
Effects sought out by the user
- Euphoria (heightened sense of well-being)
Common toxic effects
- Constricted pupils
- Decreased respiratory rate
- Dry mouth
- Dysphoria (sadness, anxiety, irritability)
- Muscle cramps
- Ostealgia (pain in the bones)
- Reduced visual acuity
- Slowing of cognitive and physical functions
- Slurred speech
- Sweating, clammy skin
- Cardiorespiratory depression
Effects associated with chronic use
- Absence of menstruation
- Breathing difficulties
- Loss of interest in sex
- Personality changes
- Social exclusion
The most harmful physical consequences associated with heroin addiction depend on how it is taken, the impurities found within the drug and the addict's living conditions.
The most serious effects are usually the result of intravenous use and the use of dirty needles and syringes (skin infections, tetanus, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, etc.).
Tolerance (need to increase the dose to feel the same effect)
Develops quickly. Users can increase their dose 100-fold from the initial dose.
Yes (physical and psychological). It can develop very quickly, within a few weeks in most cases. The risk of addiction increases when the drug is injected.
Heroin addicts may become so preoccupied by the powerful need to get heroin to prevent withdrawal that it takes over their daily life. Withdrawal symptoms usually begin within 6 to 12 hours after the last use (muscle aches, malaise, watering eyes, runny nose, fever, sneezing, chills, shivering, tremors, excessive sweating, anxiety, agitated sleep). Symptoms reach their peak over the next 36 to 72 hours (abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, mydriasis (dilation of the pupils), intense drug cravings, aggression, rage, paranoid delusions, tachycardia (increased heart rate), hypertension). Most symptoms subside after about 5 to 10 days.
Onset and duration of action
|Route of |
|Injected||A few seconds||10 to 20 minutes||3 to 5 hours|
|Smoked||10 to 15 minutes||N/A||3 to 5 hours|
- Antidote available: naloxone. This medication is available with a prescription.
- Treatment is mainly symptomatic.
Many different street drugs are sold under the same name. Furthermore, nothing guarantees the quantity, purity or even the content of a street drug in spite of the fact that it may, in some cases, look like medication.
If you need help or want to learn more:
Partnership for a Drug-Free Canada.