Drug Facts

With so many voices and opinions out there, it’s important to understand the facts.

Fact is that while you’re a teen (and even into your early 20’s!), you’re still growing and developing, and drug abuse during these years in particular can have a lasting impact. Another fact to consider: the brain is much more vulnerable to addiction during these years. 90% of Americans with a substance abuse problem started smoking, drinking or using other drugs before age 18.

When it comes to drug use, individual reactions and experiences vary, so it’s important to understand the usual risks and effects, both short- and long-term. Knowledge can be the key to making your own best decisions.

Information provided isn’t to prevent anyone from seeking medical treatment under the advice and care of their doctor. A variety of substances offer potential medicinal value, but that doesn’t negate their risks, especially when abused.

Bath Salts
Prescription Drugs
Tobacco & Nicotine
Select Drug


Heroin is a highly addictive drug. And overdose is a real, and deadly risk.


Smack, horse, brown sugar, dope, H, junk, skag, skunk, white horse, China white, Mexican black tar

What is it?

Heroin is an opiate, a class of drugs that are either naturally derived from the flowers of the poppy plant, or synthetic substitutes. In the case of heroin, it’s produced from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that comes from the seedpod of poppy plants. All opiate abuse, including heroin and many prescriptions painkillers, carries a strong risk of addiction and physical dependence. Heroin is abused by injecting, snorting or smoking it, and all three can cause the same level of addiction, as well as serious health problems.1

The Risks

Heroin enters the brain very quickly, making it particularly addictive. It’s estimated that almost one-fourth of the people who try heroin become addicted.2 And over time, heroin users develop a tolerance, meaning that more and more of the drug is needed to achieve the same results.

It is extremely easy to not only become addicted, but to become physically dependent on heroin as well.3 Physical dependence occurs when your body adapts to the drug’s presence, causing withdrawal – symptoms include muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting – when use stops. Chronic heroin users can begin experiencing withdrawal in as little as a few hours.

Heroin suppresses breathing, which is why using heroin always carries the risk of overdose and death.4 Also, heroin often has additives that will not dissolve in the bloodstream. This can easily cause a blood clot to form and travel to the lungs, liver, heart or brain, which is instantly fatal.

Long-Term Effects

In a short amount of time, regular heroin use destroys the body. Common conditions that plague heroin users include infection of the heart lining and valves, liver disease, lung disease, and hepatitis and HIV/AIDS from needle use.

The Bottom Line

It’s a fast high, but just as quickly, it can take over your life, and become fatal. Heroin and other opiate addictions are treatable, but the path to recovery requires a commitment that can often last years or even decades.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts: Heroin.
    Revised April 2013. Retrieved May 2013.
    View Source []
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts: Heroin.
    Revised April 2013. Retrieved May 2013.
    View Source []
  3. Drug Enforcement Agency. Drug Fact Sheet: Heroin.
    Retrieved July 2011.
    View Source []
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. DrugFacts: Heroin.
    Revised April 2013. Retrieved May 2013.
    View Source []

Need Help?


Call the Boys Town

National Hotline

Confidential and Open 24/7

image of pills Privilege, Pressure & Pills
I never would have imagined motivated, bright students, with everything going for them, turning to drug use.
Read the full blog post >>