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Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency as well as its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.

Facts About…


What is it called?

What does it look like?

How is it used?


Smack, Horse, Mud, Brown sugar, Junk, Black tar, and Big H

White to dark-brown powder or tarlike substance

Injected, smoked, or inhaled


Empirin compound with codeine, Tylenol with codeine, Codeine in cough medicine

Dark liquid varying in thickness, capsules, tablets

Taken orally, injected


Pectoral syrup

White crystals, hypodermic tablets, or injectable solutions

Taken orally, injected, or smoked


Paregoric, Dover's Powder, Parepectolin

Dark brown chunks, powder

Smoked, eaten, or injected


Pethidine, Demerol, Mepergan

White powder, solution, tablets

Taken orally, injected

Other narcotics

Percocet, Percodan, Tussionex, Fentanyl, Darvon, Talwin, and Lomotil

Tablets or capsules

Taken orally, injected

Heroin is a narcotic derived from the opium poppy. Heroin was originally developed as a substitute for morphine in an effort to deal with the addiction problem. However, it was quickly recognized that heroin is even more addictive than morphine. As a result the drug was made illegal. Produced in Mexico and Asia, heroin is reported to be widely available throughout the U.S. At the street level, heroin is cut with a variety of substances, leading to variation in purity over time and in different areas.

When injected, sniffed or smoked, heroin binds with opiate receptors found in many regions of the brain. The result is intense euphoria, often referred to as a rush. The rush lasts only briefly and is followed by a couple of hours of a relaxed, contented state. In large doses, heroin can reduce or eliminate respiration. Withdrawal symptoms include: nausea, dysphoria, muscle aches, lacrimation or rhinorrhea, pupillary dilation, piloerection or sweating, diarrhea, yawning, fever, and insomnia

Heroin is a highly addictive drug, and its use is a serious problem in America. Recent studies suggest a shift from injecting heroin to snorting or smoking because of increased purity and the misconception that these forms of use will not lead to addiction.

Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Street names for heroin include smack," H, skag, and junk. Other names may refer to types of heroin produced in a specific geographical area, such as "Mexican black tar."

Health Hazards

Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

The short-term effects of heroin abuse appear soon after a single dose and disappear in a few hours. After an injection of heroin, the user reports feeling a surge of euphoria (rush) accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth, and heavy extremities. Following this initial euphoria, the user goes on the nod, an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. Long-term effects of heroin appear after repeated use for some period of time. Chronic users may develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin's depressing effects on respiration.

In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin may have additives that do not readily dissolve and result in clogging the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain. This can cause infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs.

Tolerance, Addiction, and Withdrawal

With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.

Withdrawal, which in regular abusers may occur as early as a few hours after the last administration, produces drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps ("cold turkey"), kicking movements ("kicking the habit"), and other symptoms. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and subside after about a week. Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health is occasionally fatal, although heroin withdrawal is considered much less dangerous than alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal.



Recover from chemical dependency as well as its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series—From Insanity to Serenity.

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