How Is Heroin Abused? | Heroin Route Of Administration

Heroin is a highly addictive illicit drug that can be used in a variety of ways depending on the form of the drug. Recovering from heroin abuse often requires intensive treatment at a rehab center.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), heroin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance meaning it has no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

People who use heroin can take it in a variety of ways depending on its form. These may include snorting, plugging (rectal insertion), shooting (injection), smoking heroin, and more.

Snorting Heroin

Snorting powdered heroin, also known as insufflation, is one of the least common ways to ingest heroin, due to the increased time it takes to feel the euphoric effects of the drug.

Signs of heroin snorting include frequent nosebleeds, runny nose, sniffling, as well as inflammation and damage to the nasal tissue.

Learn more about the dangers of snorting heroin.

Plugging Heroin

Plugging heroin is also called “butt chugging” or “boofing” and refers to the act of administering heroin rectally. People who plug heroin may have bloody stools, colon perforation, and other bowel issues.

Read more about plugging heroin.

Skin Popping Heroin

Skin popping is accomplished by injecting a liquid form of heroin subcutaneously (under the skin). This is most often done with a dissolved form of black tar heroin and will leave dark red blotches on the skin.

Sometimes a subcutaneous injection is accidental when someone misses their vein. Skin popping is an uncommon way of using heroin because it takes longer for the effects to take hold.

Read more about the dangers of skin popping heroin.

Smoking Heroin

Smoking heroin is one of the most common ways to abuse the drug. It is accomplished by inserting black tar heroin into a glass pipe and igniting the contents.

Another common way to smoke heroin is called “freebasing”. This is done by heating black tar heroin on aluminum foil and inhaling the vapors, also known as “chasing the dragon”.

People who smoke heroin oftentimes have respiratory conditions, worsened asthma, and a hacking cough.

Learn more about smoking heroin.

Shooting (Injecting) Heroin

According to national surveys, more than half of people who use heroin on a regular basis prefer to inject it intravenously (IV) with a needle and syringe.

Shooting heroin is preferred because of the near-instantaneous euphoric effect. People experience a warm rush throughout their bodies accompanied by intense feelings of well-being.

Learn more about IV heroin use

Treatment Programs For Heroin Addiction

Help is available if you or a loved one are addicted to heroin or other illicit substances. An evidence-based rehab facility can provide the services needed to achieve sobriety.

Addiction treatment services may include:

  • dual diagnosis for co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders
  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using buprenorphine, methadone, or naloxone
  • support groups for addiction to prescription opioids such as oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • family, group, and individual counseling for adolescents
  • medically monitored heroin detoxification
  • 12 step programs

A reputable addiction treatment provider can offer the inpatient or outpatient services you need to treat substance use disorder and learn how to cope with opioid addiction.

Find Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Call our helpline at Bedrock Recovery Center today. Our inpatient treatment facility offers the research-based behavioral health services you need to conquer addiction.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Heroin Overdose Data
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Heroin DrugFacts
  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH) — America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — Opioids

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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