All About

Drug Class

Opioids / Opiate Analgesics.

Common Terms

dope, Big H, H, horse, mojo, smack, white lady, brown, skag, junk.

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. Smoking is sometimes called “chasing the dragon.”

The Buzz
  • Heroin creates a rush of deep pleasure or euphoria. As the rush dissipates, a dreamy, blissful state sets in, with varying degrees of comprehension and awareness. This sleepy state is commonly called being “on the nod.”
  • The buzz lasts for several hours
  • Greatly diminishes or eliminates physical and emotional pain
  • Tolerance for physical pain increases
  • Skin flushes and pupils dilate
  • Breathing slows
  • Feeling of heaviness throughout body
  • Relaxed, sleepy and mellow

Overdose and Other Negative Effects
  • Fentanyl, and Carfentanyl, much more potent, potentially lethal opiates, are often cut into heroin, making overdose much more likely. Get trained in Naloxone administration and keep a Naloxone kit with you when you dose.
  • Test for Fentanyl: You can order testing strips online from A must for any opiate user! Tiny amounts of Fentanyl can be fatal for even long-time opiate users who have a tolerance.
  • Tolerance builds quickly, requiring more heroin to achieve the same effect when used regularly.
  • Tolerance drops quickly. If you take a break from heroin, you need less to get you high after you have taken a break, than the amount you used to use regularly when you used before. This is important to avoid overdosing
  • Depresses breathing, which can lead to falling into a coma and dying if you accidentally take too much heroin.
  • Heroin is extremely addictive, even if used in a small amount for the first time. Always check a small amount of potency before using. “Start low, go slow.”
  • Sobering up can be painful, especially if you were in physical or emotional pain before dosing. This pain can seem more acute after using, creating an urge to dose again.
  • Itchiness of skin, nausea, vomiting and constipation are common side effects.
  • Withdrawal can be excruciating and can bring on: anxiety, insomnia, agitation, muscle pain, cramping, diarrhea, sweating and vomiting. Seek medical help when getting off heroin. Click here for a map of methadone and suboxone clinics in Toronto, and throughout Ontario.
  • Avoid using alone. It is easy to overdose alone, and you can be very prone while high.
  • Speedballing. Heroin used with cocaine is commonly called speedballing, combining the dream-like state of heroin with the energizing effects of cocaine. Speedballing is very hard on your heart and can cause over-dose death.
  • Smoking is safer than injecting. If you don’t have unused injection drug gear, or do not know how to inject properly, try smoking it instead. Use your own device to smoke, as smoking can burn your lips and be a site for blood-borne infections to be transmitted.
  • Injecting brings the risk of infection, abscess, vein damage, blood clots, all of which can lead to serious health complications. Click here to learn how to inject more safely.

Dangerous Drug Combinations
  • G when mixed with heroin can suppress breathing to fatal levels
  • Cocaine mixed with heroin puts great strain on your heart and can be fatal. See above under Speedballing.
  • Crystal Meth has the same risks involved as mixing with cocaine.
  • LSD and Shrooms when taken with heroin are highly unpredictable and can induce unpleasant psychedelic effects.

Sex on Heroin
  • Sedation: causes drowsiness or passing out altogether. 
  • Heroin decreases libido and makes it hard to cum. It is not thought of as a sex or party drug.
  • Heroin can make you prone and decreases your ability to set and assert sexual boundaries. It is extra important to check in with partners who are on heroin regarding consent and consciousness. Keep checking in throughout a sexual encounter. Sex with someone who is passed out can be considered sexual assault.
  • In small doses, heroin can create a more sensual experience, or feelings of appreciation and affection towards a partner.

HIV Medications & Heroin
  • Protease Inhibitors (PIs) may decrease the levels of heroin in your system.
  • Specifically, ritonavir (Norvir) reduces heroin levels by 50%.
  • HIV and Hep C are easily transmitted 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.