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Heroin (he-row-in), also known as smack, kit and gear, is an opiate and a naturally occurring painkiller which comes from the opium poppy.
Anyone taking heroin, especially those in Glasgow, should be aware of the possibility of contracting the bacterial infection botulism. Drugs can be contaminated with these bacteria at any point, from manufacture to preparation for use. To reduce your chances of contracting botulism make sure you only inject in to a vein, try smoking or using rectally instead of injecting. If you or anyone you know suffers from difficulty speaking or swallowing, blurred vision or extreme weakness then seek medical help immediately.
Heroin is a highly addictive analgesic (pain relieving) drug which can make you feel calm, relaxed and deeply secure. It also lowers your heart rate and breathing and causes drowsiness. People taking it can feel cut off from physical and emotional pain and may experience a feeling of well-being as well as nausea, anxiety and feeling withdrawn.
It comes in an off-white or light to dark brown powder and is usually smoked, heated using foil and inhaled (chasing/burning) or injected. Purity often varies making it difficult to judge dose and dependency can happen very quickly. Regular users will need larger doses to get the same effect and may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
People who don't take heroin for a while will have a reduced tolerance and are at a higher risk of overdose.
If you choose to use heroin:
Smoking heroin is less dangerous than injecting due to reduced risk of getting blood borne viruses including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Those who take heroin are advised never to share any equipment
If you choose to inject, don't do all your heroin in one go. Make sure you are with other people who can call an ambulance in case you overdose
If injecting: only use clean supplies, use the smallest needle possible, only use clean equipment, rotate your sites, wash injecting sites/ hands and never share equipment!
Avoid other downers like alcohol, methadone, benzos or sleeping tablets as this will increase your risk of overdose
Naloxone can reverse an opiate overdose- speak to your local drug service to find out more. Or visit: http://www.naloxone.org.uk
Class A drug. Penalties for possession are up to 7 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Supply holds penalties of up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.