Methods of Using Heroin
There are many methods of using heroin. Heroin is usually injected, sniffed/snorted, or smoked. One of the most common methods of using heroin is to inject the drug. Typically, a heroin abuser may inject up to four times a day. Intravenous injection provides the greatest intensity and most rapid onset of euphoria (7 to 8 seconds), while intramuscular injection produces a relatively slow onset of euphoria (5 to 8 minutes).
As mentioned above, injection is one of the most common methods of using heroin and often feels like a ritual for the user. Once the heroin is purchased, the preparation starts almost immediately. First, everything will be put out on display and placed in order. A heroin users "kit" includes, heroin, a syringe with needle, spoon, lighter or candle, cigarette filter, belt, citric acid, and water. The heroin is put onto the spoon with citric acid, the right amount of water will then be mixed with the heroin and citric acid (the citric acid is used to breakdown the heroin so it can be injected). At the same time the spoon is held over the heat source so all the three substances are mixed together. Once mixed, a cigarette filter will be placed onto the spoon, the solution will then be drawn up the syringe through the cigarette filters to filter out any impurities. It is now ready to be injected into a vein usually in the user's arm. The belt or similar implement such as a shoe lace is tied tightly around the arm to stop the blood flow; this will cause the veins to stand out for easier injection. After long periods of use the veins will become damaged and other areas of the body are used or new methods of using heroin are found. Other places used for injection are the groin area, behind the knees or in serious cases in the neck. It has been known for addict's veins to collapse.
Smoking is another of the well known methods of using heroin. Smoking heroin is also known as "Chasing the Dragon." The first record of smoking heroin originated in Shanghai in the 1920s and involved the use of porcelain bowls and bamboo tubes. This method of heroin consumption eventually made its way across much of Eastern Asia and to the United States over the next decade.
The methods of using heroin for many new and younger users include snorting or smoking the drug because they wish to avoid the social stigma attached to injection drug use. These users often mistakenly believe that snorting or smoking the drug as their primary methods of using heroin will not lead to addiction. With regular heroin use, tolerance develops. This means the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity or effect. As higher doses are used over time, physical dependence and addiction develop. With physical dependence, the body has adapted to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use is reduced or stopped.
However, many users who are smoking the drug as one of their primary methods of using heroin often graduate to injection because as their bodies become conditioned to the drug, the effects it produces are less intense. They then turn to injection--a more efficient means of administering the drug--to try to attain the more intense effects they experienced when they began snorting or smoking the drug as their methods of using heroin. It is important to note that snorting and smoking as methods of using heroin poses the same risks of overdose and death as that of intravenous users.