What It Is: Heroin belongs to a group of pain-relieving drugs called narcotics. The drug comes from the opium poppy, a flower that grows in Asia, Mexico, and South America. Pure heroin has the consistency of white powder. Some heroin is also dark brown, while black tar heroin is either sticky or hard and looks like roofing tar. Although some narcotics like codeine and morphine are legal if prescribed for pain relief, heroin is an illegal narcotic because it has dangerous side effects and is very addictive. Sometimes Called: horse, smack, big H, black tar, caballo (Spanish), 8-ball (heroin mixed with crack cocaine), junk, TNT How It's Used: Heroin is usually injected or smoked. Purer forms of heroin are inhaled. What It Does: Heroin provides a burst or rush of good feelings, and users feel "high" and relaxed. This may be followed by drowsiness and nausea. Many people who are addicted to heroin inject the drug into a vein with needles, and may inject the drug several times a day. Over time, the needle marks, or tracks, can become permanent scars. Often, heroin addicts will share needles, which can lead to infection with dangerous germs like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Heroin is a very addictive drug and many people find it extremely difficult to stop using it — even after using it for just the first or second time. Heroin users constantly crave their next dose. If heroin addicts suddenly try to stop using the drug or are unable to get another dose, they often develop withdrawal symptoms, like feelings of panic, sleeplessness, bad chills and sweats, muscle pain, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Taking an overdose of heroin can cause a person to stop breathing and die. This is especially true if the heroin is mixed with a synthetic opioid like fentanyl. Many dealers now lace heroin with fentanyl, a painkiller that is much stronger than heroin and can cause an overdose more quickly. Back to Articles Related Articles G6PD Deficiency G6PD deficiency an inherited condition in which someone doesn't have enough of the enzyme G6PD, which protects red blood cells. Read More What You Need to Know About Drugs Drugs are chemicals that change the way a person's body works. Some drugs help you feel better, but drugs also can harm you. Learn more in this article for kids. Read More Ecstasy: What Parents Need to Know Ecstasy is a dangerous illegal drug that can cause hallucinations and even death. Read More Talking to Your Child About Drugs Just as you inoculate your kids against illnesses like measles, you can help "immunize" them against drug use by giving them the facts now. Read More Dealing With Addiction Find out what you can do if you think you or a friend has a drug or alcohol addiction - from recognizing the warning signs to suggestions to help you stay clean. Read More Drugs: What to Know It's not hard to find drugs, and sometimes it may seem like everyone's doing them or wanting you to do them. But there are downsides (and dangers) to taking drugs. Read More Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor. © 1995-2021 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved. Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.