Heroin

Definition - What does Heroin mean?

Heroin is an illicit drug derived from morphine. The drug is an opiate that interacts with the opioid receptors in the brain, causing a psychological addiction and physical dependency. Heroin is a fast acting drug that creates feelings of pleasure and well-being as it mimics the effect of the body's natural endorphins. After this initial reaction, the drug has a sedative effect on the central nervous system, slowing the user's breathing.

Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug pursuant to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. Its possession and use is illegal. The drug is derived from the resin of poppy plants, sometimes referred to as opium plants. The 5-panel drug test conducted in accordance with federal Department Transportation guidelines tests for the presence of opiates, including heroin. Because it is included in these mandatory tests, most non-DOT tests will also screen for the presence of heroin.

WorkplaceTesting explains Heroin

Heroin users usually smoke or inject the drug. A powdered form of heroin may be inhaled by some users. Aside from the obvious risks of addiction, heroin users are at risk for fatal overdoses because of the drug's sedative effect on the user's heart rate and breathing. A person who overdoses on heroin may reduce his or her breathing so much that the brain is starved for oxygen and the person falls into a coma, suffers permanent brain damage, or dies.

The long-term side-effects of using heroin include blood infections, abscesses, liver and kidney disease, and infections of the lining of the heart. Insomnia and pneumonia may also occur. Individuals who use heroin may also experience depression and other mental disorders. Heroin is often contaminated with other drugs or chemicals that also have a toxic effect on the body. Additionally, individuals who inject the drug risk contracting infectious diseases from reusing or sharing needles.

Because users of heroin often become physically dependent on the drug, stopping its usage should be done under medical supervision. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and sometimes fatal.

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