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 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.