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What is heroin?

Heroin is a drug that comes from the opium poppy and is in the class of drugs called depressants, because it slows down the brain and the central nervous system. It is one of a group of very strong pain-killing drugs called narcotic analgesics or opioids.

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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 can include

  • feel really good
  • make physical pain disappear
  • make you feel sleepy
  • feel nauseous or vomit

Effects depend on...

​What heroin does to you depends on how much you take, how often you have been using heroin (the longer you use, the more you may build up a tolerance to the effects), when you last took heroin, how pure the heroin is, your height and weight, your general health, your past experience with heroin, whether you use heroin on its own or with other drugs.

  • make your breathing become shallow

How heroin affects your body

Tap a body part to learn more of the effects Heroin places on your body.

Long term effects can include

  • loss of appetite
  • have heart and lung problems
  • overdose (the longer you use heroin, the more likely you are to overdose)
  • have your menstrual period irregularly or not at all (women)
  • have long-term constipation
  • find it difficult to get pregnant (women)
  • find it difficult to get an erection (men)

General information

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Your Room > A-Z of Drugs > Heroin