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Heroin is a morphine derivative and morphine is opium's most potent active ingredient. First synthesized in 1874, heroin was widely used in medicine in the early part of the 20th century, until its addictive potential was recognized.
Pure heroin is a powder with a bitter taste. Street heroin may vary in color from white to dark brown because of impurities or additives. There is a dark brown or black form of the drug, as dense as roofing tar or coal, known as "black tar."
Quick facts about heroin:
There is 'no cookie' cutter heroin user. Individuals of all ages and lifestyles have used heroin. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, approximately 1.2% of the population reported using heroin at least once in their lifetime.
Heroin is injected, snorted or smoked. Many new, younger users begin by snorting or smoking heroin because they wish to avoid the social stigma attached to injection drug use. These users often mistakenly believe that snorting or smoking will not lead to addiction.
Users who snort or smoke heroin usually graduate to injection because as their bodies become conditioned to the drug, the effects are less intense, where the effects of injected heroin are more intense.
Users who inject heroin will feel a euphoric surge or a 'rush' as it is often called. Their mouths may become dry. They may begin to nod in and out and their arms and legs will feel heavy and rubbery. They may experience a diminished mental capacity and dulled emotions. The effect of heroin lasts three to four hours after each dose has been administered.
Users say they are never able to recreate the euphoria of their first high. Heroin users develop a tolerance for the drug and progressively use more in an effort to get the original feeling. Heroin is highly addictive.
Abuse of prescription opiate pain killers (i.e., Oxycontin and Vicodin) are behind heroin's growth in popularity with young people: these pills are the doorway to heroin abuse.
Youth become addicted to pain killers initially by helping themselves to their parent's prescriptions (or those of friends' parents). They then need to buy on the 'street', but the pills cost between $20 to $50 each. Heroin is much cheaper and easier to get.
Between 2004 and 2008, at least 1,068 people on Long Island died in overdoses of either heroin or prescription opiates.
Learn more on our Prescription Drug Abuse page.
The best way to prevent your child from becoming addicted is to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of both alcohol and drug abuse and take action as soon as you suspect that your child may be using. Most importantly, develop healthy communication with your child so that you can better recognize any changes that may occur with substance use. Your child will be more likely to seek you out if he or she has a problem if open communication has been established.
A great link for all this information can be found at the Parents Resource Center, sponsored by the Partnership for a Drug Free America at the website or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Power of Parents website.
If you should need some support you can contact a professional. Please refer to the Office of Alcoholism and Sustance Abuse Services (OASAS) website for a listing of certified programs/professionals or call OASAS Addiction Services helpline 1-877-8-HOPE-NY or Nassau County Department of Drug and Alcohol 24-hour hotline Number 516-481-4000.
For further information, visit our Family and Community pages to find family support groups, tools for parents, and more.
There are signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse, but, it can be difficult to separate from typical teen behavior. You may find tell tale signs from the Parents Resource Center sponsored by the Partnership for a Drug Free America at the website or Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) - Power of Parents website.
Experts strongly agree that if you suspect something is wrong that you should consult a professional for an assessment. Teaming up with an addiction professional can get your child the help they need. Please refer to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) website for a listing of certified programs professionals or call OASAS addiction services helpline 1-877-8-HOPE-NY or Nassau County Department of Drug and Alcohol 24-hour hotline number 516-481-4000.
Various levels of care and settings are available depending on the individual's needs from outpatient counseling to inpatient and long-term care. An effective treatment program is comprehensive and can provide assistance in other life areas including educational or vocational goals, as well as medical or mental health issues. The type of treatment is dependent upon the stage of addiction. It is best to go to a professional to find out what is the most appropriate service. You may find the resources for a professional assessment by reaching out to the State certified service providers. These providers are listed on the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) website or call OASAS addiction services helpline 877-8-HOPE-NY or Nassau County Department of Drug and Alcohol 24-hour hotline number 516-481-4000. Self help can be found at the Intergroup Association of Alcoholics Anonymous website or the Narcotics Anonymous website.
View our Treatment and Prevention page for further information.
Be open and ask but be prepared with information and a plan of what to do next. Addiction is a disease of denial so be prepared for that. You can have an informal intervention which is a conversation or a formal intervention with professional and other important family members. You can find a guide to Intervention, "Time to Act" from the Partnership for Drug Free America website.
Teaming up with an addiction professional can get you help they need. Please refer to the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) website for a listing of certified programs/professionals or call OASAS addiction services helpline 877-8-HOPE-NY or Nassau County Department of Drug and Alcohol 24-hour hotline number 516-481-4000. Nassau Alliance for Addiction Services (NAFAS) at the NAFAS website.
It is the mission of the Heroin Prevention Task Force to form a partnership of community, social and government agencies dedicated to reducing the demand for heroin in our communities; to educating our citizens of the prevalence of the heroin problem, the signs and symptoms of addiction, and the resources available; to eliminating drug related crime in our communities, through public education, advocacy, media, law enforcement, and legislation.
Visit our Teens and Heroin pages to find information.
Office of the Nassau County District AttorneyAnne Donnelly262 Old Country RoadMineola, NY 11501
Office of the County ExecutiveBruce Blakeman1550 Franklin AvenueMineola, NY 11501
To learn more about the Heroin Prevention Task Force, please contact Fayola Charlet, Director of Community Affairs in the Nassau County District Attorney's Office at 516-571-0285 or email the Task Force!