Category: Depressant

Also know as:

Gear, H, Junk, Kit, Skag, Smack


Heroin is a powerful opiate that’s usually sold as a white or brown powder.  As it’s cut with different substances, the colour of street heroin in the UK ranges from brownish white to brown.  Heroin is a drug made from morphine, which is extracted from the opium poppy.

Heroin can have a vinegary smell but can also be odourless. It normally has a bitter taste.

How it is taken

Heroin can be taken in a variety of different ways. It can be snorted, smoked, or injected.  There is no safe way to take heroin as you can overdose using any method.

Although called smoking, you actually melt heroin and inhale the vapour – sometimes called ‘chasing the dragon’ or ‘tooting’.

Heroin does not dissolve in water and requires a process of cooking with an acid(citric or vit c) to prepare it for injecting.


Heroin can cause feelings of euphoria and relaxation. It is a downer drug and people may feel calm, relaxed, safe and warm. It can also cause constipation, nausea and vomiting.  In certain doses, heroin can cause respiratory depression (slowed/shallow breathing and reduced heart rate) and death.


Short term:

There is a risk of drug overdose, possibly leading to coma or death, especially in those with low tolerance or when injected. Heroin can be is often mixed with domestic household substances and other additives which can be harmful to inject or snort.

Naloxone is a prescription only medicine that can temporarily reverse the effect of heroin or opioid overdose.  In Scotland drug users and their families/peers can request a Naloxone kit for free. More information on how and where to get naloxone is available here.

You can order it for free online here.

Long term:

Heroin is addictive and larger and more frequent doses may be needed to feel ‘normal’ Prevent withdrawals. Injecting can damage veins; sharing needles any injecting equipment can spread hepatitis and HIV.

Legal status

Heroin is a class A drug. This means that it’s illegal to possess it, give it away or supply it. Possessing it can lead to a prison sentence of up to 7 years or an unlimited fine or both. Supplying (which includes giving it to a friend) could lead to a life sentence or an unlimited fine or both.

Find local help & support

There’s a wide network of local and community support services to help deal with drug problems.

Services Directory

Talk to us

Talk to one of our advisers free and confidentially today or find help and support near you.