4.7 Risks of heroin see also 3.7

As already mentioned in the introduction, heroin is far less harmful to the health than its image leads us to believe. The health risks in heroin use mainly consist of indirect problems: The infection risks (HIV and hepatitis) when injecting, the danger of taking an overdose, and the health neglect factor. Because heroin numbs the pain, a cold could turn into pneumonia unnoticed. Heroin use can also cause malnourishment and so reduced immunity against infection. Vitamins and fibres are usually not a priority in the life of a heroin user, the 'bag of smack', on the other hand, is his 'daily bread'.

Short-term

* Overdose.

* Abscesses if injecting.

* The shakes' (fever attack when heroin is injected). 

* Infection with HIV and hepatitis.

Medium term


*
Malnourishment. 

* Constipation. 

* Abscesses if injecting.

Long-term

* Discontinuation of menstrual bleeding.

* Reduced resistance against infection.

Is heroin addictive?

Contrary to popular belief, no one will turn into an addict immediately after taking one dose but the body gets used to heroin remarkably fast. Especially when heroin is injected intravenously, tolerance develops quickly: A steadily increasing dose is needed to maintain the same effects. If the heroin wears off or its use is discontinued, a variety of withdrawal symptoms occurs (cold shivers, diarrhoea, sweating, cramps). The socalled 'cold turkey' can become so unbearable that after a while individuals only keep on using so as not to get sick. Aside from physical pain, heroin also numbs mental pain. This makes heroin twice as attractive to individuals with personal problems.

1 + 1 = 3 Alcohol, methadone, sleeping medicines and tranquillizers all have the same effect as heroin: They sedate. Combined use intensifies this effect which can lead to respiratory failure.

Heroin and cocaine

Combined use of heroin and cocaine can also be dangerous. Because both substances partly neutralise each other's effect, (one sedates, the other stimulates), too much could be used without the user realizing.

Can heroin use lead to aggression?

In theory no, because heroin just like all other opiates is extremely sedating. The heroin user is very calm and may not feel like much action. (This applies mainly to chippers).