How Is Heroin Used?

Heroin Use
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Question: How Is Heroin Used?

Answer: Heroin is used in various ways. It can be injected, snorted, sniffed and smoked, depending mainly on the purity of the drug and the preference of the user.

Heroin can be injected into a vein or a muscle. It can be smoked in a pipe or mixed with a marijuana joint or a regular cigarette. Its smoke can be inhaled through a straw, a process known as "chasing the dragon." As a powder, it can be snorted.

Users who inject heroin feel is effects the quickest. When heroin is mainlined, users can usually begin to experience a feeling of euphoria within 7 to 8 seconds. When it is smoked, the user will typically feel its peak effects in 10 to 15 minutes.

Rush Is Greater for Injection Users

Shortly after injecting heroin, users report that they feel a surge or "rush" of euphoria, dry mouth, warm flushing of the skin, and heaviness in the extremities. After this initial euphoric feeling, users will enter a state that alternates between drowsiness and wakefulness, during with mental functioning becomes hazy.

Those who snort or smoke heroin may not feel the intense rush that injection users feel, but will experience the same other effects.

Traditionally, the majority of people seeking treatment for heroin abuse were injection drug users, but the availability of pure heroin has created a shift toward sniffing and smoking the drug, particularly among young users.

Highly Addictive Drug

The higher purity heroin that can be snorted or smoked also appeals to new users, who may be leery of injection drug use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

No matter how heroin is used - injected, snorted or smoked - it is highly addictive for the user due in part to the development of tolerance to the drug which requires greater dosages to achieve the same results.

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National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Heroin." Research Report Series Updated January 2014

The Partnership at "Heroin." Drug Guide. Accessed March 2014.

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