Heroin needles are attached to syringes. They are used to inject heroin into a vein. Heroin is an illicit opioid drug that is very dangerous to use.
Injecting heroin is even more dangerous than other forms of use. It is very common among people who use this drug.
The heroin enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain very quickly when injected. This creates an intense and fast-acting “high” for the person injecting the drug.
How Heroin Needles Are Used To Inject Drugs
It is common to melt black tar heroin or white powder heroin into a liquid form, then draw it in with the syringe and heroin needle before injecting it.
Sometimes, the person using heroin may try to make a makeshift filter to remove impurities before drawing it in with the syringe. Cotton balls and cigarette filters are commonly used for this.
Dangers Of Heroin Needles
Injecting heroin is one of the most dangerous ways to take the drug.
Dangers of injection with heroin needles include:
- infection at the injection site, often including heroin abscesses
- infectious diseases like hepatitis b, hepatitis c, and HIV (from sharing needles)
- damaged or collapsed veins
- pathogens like botulism
- skin and muscle damage
There are harm reduction programs available in many cities that aim to help intravenous drug users. They may offer clean needles or classes on best injection practices.
Risks Of Shooting Heroin Vs. Other Methods Of Use
Injection drug use has unique dangers such as the ones mentioned above. Heroin injection also increases some overall risks of using the drug, including heroin overdose.
Many people who use heroin start injecting it after their tolerance increases. If they don’t get the same “high” from smoking or snorting it, injecting it may have a more intense effect.
In addition to heroin injection, the drug can be smoked, snorted, or taken rectally. Risks and side effects of heroin abuse range from temporary to life-threatening.
Short and long-term risks of heroin use include:
- tremors or seizures
- weak pulse
- slowed or shallow breathing
- cold, clammy skin
- fatal overdose
- sleeping problems
- lung problems from smoking heroin
- sexual side effects of heroin use in men
- mental health issues
Other Forms Of Heroin Paraphernalia
If you suspect that someone close to you is using heroin, it may be helpful to know what to look for besides heroin needles.
Other forms of heroin use-related items include:
- cotton balls
- cigarette filters
- heroin spoons or metal bottle caps
- tie-offs (shoelaces, belts, rubber hose, string)
- lighter or candle
- pieces of foil
- a heroin pipe
The items above may be used to smoke or inject heroin. Once people have begun shooting heroin, they may no longer smoke or snort it.
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Addiction treatment centers offer both healthcare services and rehab programs to help people recover.
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- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Botulism, People Who Inject Drugs https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/wound-botulism.html
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Heroin Research Report: What are the medical complications of chronic heroin use? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-medical-complications-chronic-heroin-use
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Heroin DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin