Drug Class
Opioids / Opiate analgesics.
Common Terms:
Big H, H, horse, mojo, smack, white lady, brown, skag, junk, Mexican black tar.
Consumption and Standard Dose:
  • Heroin generally comes as a white or brown powder, though the brown variety can have a sticky or tar like appearance.
  • Heroin can be injected, snorted or smoked.
  • As with most drugs, injection directly into the vein creates an immediate rush.
  • Smoking heroin also creates an almost immediate rush as the smoke fills the lungs.
The Buzz:
  • Heroin creates a rush of pleasure or euphoria and as the rush dissipates, the user falls into a dreamy, pleasant state with various degrees of comprehension and awareness commonly referred to being “on the nod.”
  • Usage creates a high tolerance for physical pain, a flushing of the skin, and slowing of breathe. Users also report a heavy sensation to their body and appendages.
  • Nausea and vomiting are not unusual side effects to heroin usage, as is constipation and dilation of the pupils.
  • A heroin high can last up to a few hours, depending on dosage taken and user tolerance.
  • Heroin used with cocaine is commonly called speedballing, combining the dream-like state of heroin with the energizing effects of cocaine.
Risk reduction with heroin usage:

Heroin is very addictive, no matter how it is used so do a small amount first, to test the potency. Avoid using heroin while alone or in a locked room. Snorting brings the risk of hepatitis so avoid sharing straws or bills. Injecting brings the risk of infection, abscess, vein damage, blood clots, all of which can lead to serious medical problems and even death. Learn how to inject safely. Avoid sharing needles, cookers, cotton filters, water, or alcohol pads. Sharing your works can pass HIV, hepatitis and other infections. Used needles can damage veins as well. Prepare your injection on a clean surface, also clean your skin with soap and water or an alcohol pad. You can get injection supplies from a syringe exchange, a pharmacy, or your local health department. If you can’t get a hold of new needles, try smoking or snorting your heroin instead. Also, remember that possession of heroin can carry serious legal ramifications.
HIV Medication and Heroin
  • Protease Inhibitors (PIs) may decrease the levels of heroin in your system.
  • Specifically, ritonavir (Norvir) reduces heroin levels by 50%.
  • HIV is easily spread through sharing intravenous injection works.
  • Use new, unused syringes. Prepare for injection on a clean surface. Use ascorbic acid to dissolve your drug for injection. You can get unused injection drug gear through any site associated with The Works through Toronto Public Health.

Sex on Heroin:
  • Sedative: causes drowsiness or passing out altogether, not usually considered a drug for mutual and consensual sexual activities
  • In small/minor doses, can contribute to feeling relaxed and dreamy, sometimes affecting one’s sense/experience of time