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Heroin is a narcotic drug, is white in its pure form, but street varieties may be off-white to dark brown. Heroin is typically injected, but may also be smoked.

It produces a detached state in the user, and causes constricted pupils, drowsiness, and apathy. This drug is very physiologically addictive, and heroin addicts deprived of the drug will have watery eyes, runny nose, perspiration, and after 48 to 72 hours will experience vomiting, tremors, and severe stomach cramps. Withdrawal may even result in death.

This drug has become more popular in the 1990’s. More of it is being smuggled into the U.S. so the price is considerable lower now than in the past. Plus, many cocaine users are switching to heroin because of its cost. Some addicts are taking cocaine and heroin together (“speedballing”) which has resulted in many deaths (Actor’s John Belushi and River Phoenix, i.e.).

The most common forms of heroin in the U.S. are coming from Asia and Mexico. Mexican tar heroin got its name from the black tar-like appearance. It is heroin which still consists of the leaves, stalk and other products contained in the opium poppy. Because heroin and cocaine must be broken down from its pure state, it’s not uncommon to find such things as baking soda, laundry starch, drain cleaner and powdered rat poison mixed in.

During the mid-1990’s, heroin use among adolescents was nearly four times greater than use in the 1980’s. There are several reasons cited for the increase. One of the primary reasons is image. Heroin is no longer looked at as a “homeless junkie on the street corner with a needle in his arm” drug. Today’s heroin is considered by users as a “chic” drug, glamorized in movies, music, clubs and magazines. Also, heroin today is so pure that an intense “high” can be reached by snorting the drug. Needles are no longer needed, thus ending the fear that once kept many users from trying heroin. Another reason for the increase is price. Because of the amount of heroin coming into the U.S., the price is as low as it has ever been. And some experts says the price will continue to drop.

Street names include: a piece, hard stuff, smack, junk, black tar, and doojee.