"reducing alcohol and drug related harm in our communities"
Key Information







Smack, H, Skag, Junk, Skat, Harry


Heroin is a depressant with analgesic/painkilling properties. The effects last for 2-3 hrs and withdrawal symptoms appear 8-24hrs after the last dose. It slows down people giving them a feeling of warmth and detachment. Higher doses lead to drowsiness and sedation. Nausea and vomiting can accompany theses reactions especially with first time use. Intravenous injection (into the veins) maximises the effects of Heroin and produces a much more intense and immediate experience.


Heroin is a white/brown powder normally containing 5-30% pure Heroin. It can be smoked/sniffed (Chasing the Dragon) by inhaling the fumes of heated.  Heroin can also be injected into the vein (mainlining) or muscle. Heroin produces little effect if swallowed.   

HEALTH RISKS (long term) which includes withdrawal & tolerance:

Smoking Heroin can lead to respiratory complaints. The consequences of injection are much more serious and can lead to poor hygiene, skin lesions, tetanus, and infection from HIV and Hepatitis. Decreased appetite and apathy can contribute to disease caused by poor nutrition. Repeated sniffing can damage the structures in the nose. Deaths from the use of Heroin alone are infrequent. However, the overdose risk increases if Heroin is mixed with other drugs such as Cocaine or Alcohol, or after a period of abstinence. Tolerance develops quite quickly so that users must increase the dose or change the method of administration (usually to injection). There is much evidence of physiological dependency and withdrawal symptoms can be very nasty and resemble severe flu like symptoms. These symptoms peak around the third day and fade after about 5-10 days although sleeplessness may continue for some months.


Heroin is illegal. It is a Class A drug.  The maximum penalty for possession is 7 years prison and/or a fine.  The maximum penalty for supply is life imprisonment and/or a fine.

  1. Heroin was first synthesized in 1874 by C.R. Alder Wright, an English chemist working at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London ,
  2. It is believed Heroin", probably comes from the word heroisch - German for heroic, because in field studies people using the medicine felt "heroic”.
  3. From 1898 through to 1910 Heroin was marketed as a non-addictive Morphine substitute and cough suppressant.
  4. Some users mix Heroin with Cocaine in a combination that usually is injected intravenously, smoked, or snorted, producing a more intense rush than Heroin alone, but is more dangerous because the combination of the short-acting stimulant with the longer-acting depressant increases the risk of seizure, or overdose with one or both drugs.
  5. Heroin is available by prescription,
  6. Heroin is produced for the black market by refining Opium. The first step of this process involves isolation of Morphine from Opium. This crude Morphine is then acetylated by heating with Acetic Anhydride. Purification of the obtained crude Heroin and conversion to the hydrochloride salt results in a water-soluble form of the drug that is a white or yellowish powder.
  7. Another form of Heroin is "black tar" which is produced in Mexico.
  8. By the mid-1920s, Heroin production had been made illegal in many parts of the world.
  9. Heroin overdoses can occur due to an unexpected increase in the dose or purity or due to diminished opiate tolerance.
  10. Street Heroin is of widely varying and unpredictable purity. This means that the user may prepare what they consider to be a moderate dose while actually taking far more than intended
23 Bridge Street,
Co. Antrim
BT28 1XZ

Tel: 0800 2545 123
Fax: 028 9260 3874
Email: info@ascert.biz
Charity Number: NIC101239