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Heroin, also known as diamorphine among other names, is an opiate typically used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. Medically it is occasionally used to relieve pain and as a form of opioid replacement therapy alongside counseling. Heroin is typically injected, usually into a vein; however, it can also be smoked, snorted or inhaled. Onset of effects is usually rapid and lasts for a few hours.

Heroin
INN: Diamorphine
Heroin - Heroine.svg
Heroin-from-xtal-horizontal-3D-balls.png
Clinical data
Pronunciation Heroin: /ˈhɛrɪn/
AHFS/Drugs.com heroin
Dependence
liability
Physical: Very high
Psychological: Very high
Addiction
liability
Highly
Routes of
administration
Intravenous, inhalation, transmucosal, by mouth, intranasal, rectal, intramuscular, subcutaneous, intrathecal
Drug class opiate
ATC code N07BC06 (WHO)
Legal status
Legal status
  • S9 (Prohibited)
  • : Schedule I
  • : Anlage I (Controlled)
  • : Class A
  • Class A
  • Schedule I
  • Narcotic Schedules I and IV
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability <35% (by mouth), 44–61% (inhaled)
Protein binding 0% (morphine metabolite 35%)
Metabolism liver
Onset of action Within minutes
Biological half-life 2–3 minutes
Duration of action 4 to 5 hours
Excretion 90% kidney as glucuronides, rest biliary
Identifiers
Synonyms Diamorphine, Diacetylmorphine, Acetomorphine, (Dual) Acetylated morphine, Morphine diacetate
CAS Number 561-27-3
PubChem (CID) 5462328
DrugBank DB01452
ChemSpider 4575379
UNII 8H672SHT8E
ChEBI CHEBI:27808
ChEMBL CHEMBL459324
ECHA InfoCard 100.008.380
Chemical and physical data
Formula C21H23NO5
Molar mass 369.41 g/mol
3D model (Jmol) Interactive image
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Heroin, also known as diamorphine among other names, is an opiate typically used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. Medically it is occasionally used to relieve pain and as a form of opioid replacement therapy alongside counseling. Heroin is typically injected, usually into a vein; however, it can also be smoked, snorted or inhaled. Onset of effects is usually rapid and lasts for a few hours.

Common side effects include respiratory depression (decreased breathing) and about a quarter of those who use heroin become physically dependent. Other side effects can include abscesses, infected heart valves, blood borne infections, constipation, and pneumonia. After a history of long-term use, withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of last use. When given by injection into a vein, heroin has two to three times the effect as a similar dose of morphine. It typically comes as a white or brown powder.

Treatment of heroin addiction often includes behavioral therapy and medications. Medications used may include methadone or naltrexone. A heroin overdose may be treated with naloxone. An estimated 17 million people as of 2015 use opiates such as heroin, which together with opioids resulted in 122,000 deaths. The total number of opiate users has increased from 1998 to 2007 after which it has remained more or less stable. In the United States about 1.6 percent of people have used heroin at some point in time. When people die from overdosing on a drug, the drug is usually an opioid.

Heroin was first made by C. R. Alder Wright in 1874 from morphine, a natural product of the opium poppy. Internationally, heroin is controlled under Schedules I and IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It is generally illegal to make, possess, or sell heroin without a license. In 2015 Afghanistan produced about 66% of the world's opium. Often heroin, which is illegally sold, is mixed with other substances such as sugar or strychnine.