Heroin, also known as diamorphine among other names, is an opioid most commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. Medically it is used in several countries to relieve pain or in opioid replacement therapy. Heroin is typically injected, usually into a vein; however, it can also be smoked, snorted or inhaled.The onset of effects is usually rapid and lasts for a few hours.
Common side effects include respiratory depression (decreased breathing), dry mouth, and addiction. Other side effects can include abscesses, infected heart valves, blood borne infections, constipation, and pneumonia. After a history of long-term use, withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of last use. When given by injection into a vein, heroin has two to three times the effect as a similar dose of morphine. It typically comes as a white or brown powder.
Treatment of heroin addiction often includes behavioral therapy and medications.Medications can include buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone. A heroin overdose may be treated with naloxone. An estimated 17 million people as of 2015 use opiates such as heroin, which together with opioids resulted in 122,000 deaths. The total number of opiate users has increased from 1998 to 2007 after which it has remained more or less stable. In the United States about 1.6 percent of people have used heroin at some point in time. When people die from overdosing on a drug, the drug is usually an opioid.