Common heroin-related questions
Click here to read more stories of the Gazette's series on heroin and its impact on Rock County.
Answers from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to some common heroin-related questions:
Q: What is heroin?
A: Heroin is a highly addictive synthetic opiate drug. It is made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian opium poppy plant.
Q: How is heroin abused?
A:Heroin can be injected, snorted or smoked, which rapidly delivers the drug to the brain.
Injecting is the use of a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream.
Snorting is the process of inhaling heroin powder through the nose, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues.
Smoking involves inhaling heroin smoke into the lungs. All three methods can lead to addiction and other severe health problems.
Q: How does heroin affect the brain?
A:After intravenous injection of heroin, users report feeling a surge of euphoria, accompanied by dry mouth, a warm flushing of the skin and heaviness of the extremities.
Following the initial rush, the user goes “on the nod,” an alternately wakeful and drowsy state. Mental functioning becomes clouded.
With regular use, tolerance develops. The abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity of event. Eventually, chemical changes in the brain lead to addiction.
Q: What other bad effects does heroin have on health?
A:Heroin abuse is associated with serious health conditions, including fatal overdose, spontaneous abortion and—particularly in users who inject the drug—infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.
Chronic users might develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses and liver or kidney disease. Pulmonary complications, including various types of pneumonia, might result from the poor health of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration.
In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin often contains toxic contaminants or additives that can clog the blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys or brain, causing permanent damage to vital organs.
State certified Janesville providers of alcohol and drug treatment:
-- AlcoCare, (608) 754-2651.
-- Genesis Counseling, 1 S. Main St., Janesville, (608) 757-0404.
-- Mercy Options, 113 S. Franklin St., Janesville, (608) 756-5555.
-- Janesville Psychiatric Clinic, 2640 Milton Ave., Janesville, (608) 755-1475.
-- Crossroads Counseling Center, 17 S. River, Janesville, (608) 755-5270.
-- Lutheran Social Services, Alcohol and Drug Treatment, 612 N. Randall Ave., Janesville, (608) 752-7662, Ext. 10.