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Opioids are used in medicine due to their analgesic or pain-relieving properties. The most popular drug of abuse among opioids is heroin. Heroin is semi-synthetic substance that is highly addictive and leads to deterioration of the nervous system. Side effects of heroin are devastating and may cause fatal outcome.

What are Opioids?

Opioids belong to a class of drugs known as central nervous system depressants. They act by binding to specific proteins known as opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal system. In medicine, opioids are used to relieve the pain and even to control cough and diarrhea. However, since they are able to produce euphoria opioids are widely abused.

Opioids are derivates of opium, a substance that comes from seed pod of the Asian poppy. Opium consists of different chemical substances like codeine and morphine. Codeine is commonly used as an ingredient of different pain killers and it has mild effect. On the other hand, morphine as well as its derivates like heroine has far more stronger effect. Opioids differ due to speed they need to get to the opioid receptors and time required to activate them. Routes by which opioids are administered determine the rate at which they get inside the body. When they are snorted or injected, their euphoric effects are enhanced but at the same time the risk of serious consequences such as overdose are increased.


This opioid is most commonly sniffed, smoked or injected intravenously. Initially, heroin causes rush of pleasure and sense of well-being. Some people who use heroin reported they forget about their problems after using the substance as it provides feeling of distance from events around them. Hunger, pain and sexual desire diminish as well. Heroin doesn’t significantly alter the level of consciousness and doesn’t cause hallucinations or aggression like some other addictive substances. However, heroin can lead to dependence in very short period of time. A person, who takes heroin, easily develops tolerance and if initially has inhaled it, later he or she must inject it to restore feeling of euphoria. To maintain this feeling, an addictive person must use higher and higher doses. This way, he or she can also prevent physical discomfort that results from abstinence syndrome. Side effects of heroin include devastating social, financial, emotional, mental and physical state. Heroin can lead to hepatitis B or C, HIV/AIDS, and other infections due to sharing contaminated needle. Serious risk of taking heroin includes severe respiratory depression that can lead to death.

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