Heroin is an opiate. It is comes from morphine, which is made from the poppy plant. Heroin is therefore a derivative of morphine.

Heroin acts on the central nervous system. It is both a depressant and a hallucinogen, which numbs the brain, slows the body down and affects the senses and the perception of reality.

What it is calledAppearance  Characteristics 
  • Smack
  • Dope
  • Mud
  • Horse
  • Skag
  • Junk
  • H
  • Black tar
  • Black pearl
  • Brown sugar
  • Witch hazel
  • Birdie powder
  • Dragon
  • Hero
  • White stuff
  • China white
  • Boy
  • Chiva
  • Mexican horse
  • Skunk
  • Number 8
  • White powder, sometimes brownish 

Most of the time, heroin is injected intravenously, but it can also be inhaled (snorted) or smoked.

Effects of heroin

Heroin typically causes:

  • Calm euphoria (an internalized feeling of jumping for joy)
  • A sense of calmness
  • Bliss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Perspiration
  • Itching
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slow movement

Risks associated with heroin and possible consequences


In case of overdose, heroin can cause:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart problems
  • Coma and death

To learn more, consult the Intoxication section of Problems Associated with Alcohol Consumption and Drug Use.


Heroin use quickly leads to addiction.

Heroin causes psychological dependence, which means that you need to take the drug more often in order to feel better about yourself, relax, calm down, feel stimulated or have the courage to face problems.

Heroin also causes physical dependence, which is a need created by the body’s addiction to the effects of the drug. If you try to go without it, you may experience varying degrees of physical reaction, such as:

  • Yawning
  • Spasms
  • Goosebumps, chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea, cramps, abdominal pain
  • Anxiety, irritability

To learn more, read the Addiction section of Problems Associated with Alcohol Consumption and Drug Use.

Heroin use leads to tolerance. The more you use it, the more you need to feel the same effects as the first time.

Heroin gradually consumes your life to the point where you:

  • Change lifestyle habits on the basis of the drug
  • Experience problems at school or at work
  • Lose interest in maintaining relationships with people who do not use the drug
  • Isolate yourself

Consequences associated with safety and law

Possession of drugs such as heroin is illegal. Simply possessing a small quantity can lead to fines and a criminal record. These consequences also apply to people younger than 18. To learn more, consult the Éducaloi website This hyperlink will open in a new window..

Help and resources

Last update: September 13, 2017


Was the information on this page useful to you?
General notice

You have questions or require additional information?

Please contact Services Québec