Heroin is usually injected, snorted or smoked. It is highly addictive. Heroin enters the brain rapidly but makes people think and react slowly, impairing their decision-making ability. It causes difficulty in remembering things.
Injecting the drug can create a risk of AIDS, hepatitis (liver disease) and other diseases caused by infected needles. These health problems can be passed on to sexual partners and newborns. Heroin is one of the three drugs most frequently involved in drug abuse deaths. Violence and crime are linked to its use.
Abusers experience clouded mental functioning, nausea and vomiting. Awareness of pain may be suppressed. Pregnant women can suffer spontaneous abortion. Cardiac (heart) functions slow down and breathing is severely slowed, sometimes to the point of death.
Scarred and/or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels, heart valves, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections, and liver or kidney disease. Lung complications may result. Sharing of needles or fluids may result in hepatitis, AIDS and other blood-borne virus diseases.