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Heroin belongs to a group of pain-relieving drugs called
narcotics. Although certain narcotics such as codeine and
morphine are legal if prescribed (given) by doctors to treat
pain, such as when someone has surgery or breaks a bone,
heroin is an illegal narcotic because it is has dangerous
side effects and is very addictive.
Many people who are addicted to heroin inject the drug
into a vein using needles. They may inject the drug
several times a day. Over time, the needles will leave
scars, sometimes called tracks, all over the body.
Often, heroin addicts will share needles, which can lead
to infection with dangerous germs like
B or C or
, the virus that causes AIDS.
Heroin is a very addictive drug and many people find it
extremely difficult to stop using it - even after
using heroin for just the first or second time. Heroin
users constantly crave their next dose.
If heroin addicts suddenly try to stop using the drug or
are unable to get another dose, they often develop withdrawal
symptoms, like feelings of panic, sleeplessness, bad chills
and sweats, seizures, or convulsions (severe shaking).
If you take an overdose of heroin, it can stop your
breathing and kill you.
Updated and reviewed by:
Ryan L. Redman, MD
Date reviewed: August 2007
Originally reviewed by:
Robert B. Lembersky, MD
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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