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  • Created on: 05-11-15 18:15
Preview of Heroin

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Synthetic opiate
Analgesic (painkiller)
Most commonly injected
Mode of action:
1. Heroin mimics endorphins ­ these are inhibitory and blocks pain receptors
2. Binds to opioid receptors which are usually used by endorphins
3. Inhibits production of GABA and its release
4. GABA prevents the release of dopamine ­ lots of dopamine gets released as there is
no GABA to stop it
5. Affects an area of the brain known as the `nucleus accumbens' which is part of the
reward system
Short term effects:
Release of endorphin = pain relief, relaxation, euphoria ­ occurs 7 seconds after
Body's activity is depressed = breathing is slower, decreased heart rate
Peripheral blood vessels dilate = feeling flushed, warm, sweaty
Initial feeling of nausea is suppressed (goes away soon after)
Long term effects:
Infection of valves in the heart ­ bacteria from dirty syringes cannot be removed by
the body and build up in the heart valves
Collapsed veins ­ repeated injection sites
Hepatitis C in the liver­ infectious disease which can lead to cirrhosis and liver
Addiction linked to the brain
Pneumonia in the lungs ­ A cough, chest pain and fever occur because the lungs
swell and breathing is restricted
Skin abscesses
Pain killing effects and euphoria develop quickly
Users increase dosage very quickly (10x in 4 months)
Regular users take enough to kill a non-user
Pain relief and euphoria becomes tolerant although breathing suppression doesn't.
As tolerance to heroin increases, so does cross tolerance with other drugs
Digestive system slows down = constipation
Low sex drive
Biological dependence

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Develops very quickly
First time user has mild withdrawal symptoms
Regular user has to take heroin to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms
The body stops making its own endorphins as they are being provided artificially
Psychological dependence
User cannot cope without fix ­ becomes obsessive
Progressively less satisfied with life
Becomes confused, anxious, restless, paranoid
Symptoms are then relieved with more heroin
Symptoms relate to level of addiction
Occurs 6-12 hours after last fix
Makes user agitated and aggressive
Other symptoms include:
o Pain
o…read more


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