2.5.5 Heroin

Heroin #

Common Nomenclature Diacetylmorphine; Diamorphine
Street & Reference Names Junk; Smack; H
Reference Dosage Common 5mg+; Heavy 20mg+ Redosing 5mg-10mg [Erowid]
Light 7.5mg+; Common 20mg+; Strong 35mg+; Heavy 50mg+ [TripSit]
Anticipated: Onset / Duration 10 Minutes / 6 Hours
Maximum Dose Experienced 50mg
Form Powder
RoA Insufflated
Source / Jurisdiction Dealer / Overseas
Personal Rating On Shulgin Scale ++


Heroin is probably the most infamous drug in the world. It is refined from morphine, which itself is extracted from the opium poppy, and it was first synthesised in 1874. Erowid describes it as a euphoric depressant and an analgesic, and there is no doubt that the consequences of abuse can be grave.

For most of my life I never saw the slightest possibility that I would ever use this drug. It never entered my head. The media had done a fine job in frightening my sub-conscious, and simultaneously ensuring that I didn’t have a clue what the risks actually were, or how to manage them.

The word heroin had become synonymous with addiction and death.

As I increasingly grasped that mainstream drug reporting comprised largely of outright propaganda, a more objective outlook emerged. This solidified as I noted that personally experienced substances, which I knew to be benign, were routinely presented using the same toxic terminology. It was impossible to differentiate any grain of truth from the endless catalogue of misinformation.

With this in mind, I eventually approached heroin in the same rational and cautious manner as I had with every other chemical and botanical. Safety was paramount.

Armed with 100mg of what was purported to be 87% pure uncut #4 heroin, I embarked on the pre-requisite research, which was from a start point of almost no knowledge at all.

Whilst online literature suggested that most #4 originates in Burma or Colombia, I was totally unaware of the geographic origins of my supply.

Further, what on earth did #4 mean? I quickly learned that #3 was the rawer freebase form, which would not dissolve in water, but that #4 was heroin salt, which would. This distinction is important because the salt form renders the drug suitable for insufflation and IV.

A note in passing: smoking, which is the usual RoA for #3, attracted mixed reports, including many that suggested it was particularly bad for the lungs.

For dose, 5mg-10mg was commonly suggested, and it aligned with the light threshold on the harm reduction websites. I therefore decided that 10mg was probably a sensible starting point, with the potential to redose. I noted that additional 5mg-10mg lines were referred to by Erowid:

Heroin users describe chopping out “pin”-thin lines of heroin and then redosing every 30-60 minutes: getting high, coming down a little, snorting another line to get high, coming down a little. This is done over the course of an evening or a day and may feel like chasing the peak high that is achieved”.

Regarding expectation, I anticipated euphoria and a sense of well being, over a period of about 3-5 hours.

T+0:00 I prepare a 10mg line and insufflate [3:43pm]

T+0:02 I may feel the slightest of something, although this isn’t really significant. The thought occurs that this substance may actually be #3.

T+0:05 Perhaps I under-dosed. Given that there is no obvious adverse effect, I snort a little more (10mg). This produces a mild effect: a rather sedated headspace, but no euphoria or high.

T+0:20 I insufflate another 15mg, with no excessive nasal discomfort. I snort deep with my right nostril, and I continue to wait, impatiently.

T+0:30 There is now a clear effect. I feel sedated and a little distant, but not sleepy. This isn’t a massive high, but it is a nice light buzz. I am fully functional, in control of myself, and comfortable with the experience.

I perform a few checks. Pupils? They are constricted. Horn? There is nothing abnormal and no real interest. Appetite? No change, in that I am not really hungry. My head is definitely in a lightly inebriated state and I am relaxed.

T+0:40 As I am at ease with this, I decide to snort a final 15mg. Based upon Erowid and the other safety oriented websites, this will take me to a fairly large but not excessive dose, circa 50mg in total. It is probably wise to stop at this point. Again, there is no discomfort in the railing operation itself.

T+0:50 I’m into this more deeply than previously, but the overall character of the ride appears to be set. I am relaxed; my headspace is drifty and unengaged. Physically, I feel a little numbed (analgesic). I am not euphoric but I am tranquil and content.

T+1:10 I am in an ataractic-like comfort zone, in which problems are dissolved and all is good. At this stage, it’s a nice drug in terms of effect, but not exciting or compelling in any particular way.

T+1:50 One of the effects mentioned in reference sources was a dry mouth. I can confirm this to be the case: I had to chat to someone for a few minutes, and this came on quickly. Beyond this, there are no significant changes from earlier, although I now feel a little woozy with a hint of fatigue.

T+2:30 The general characteristic hasn’t changed, but the fatigue has increased, as has the grogginess. I feel a little like I am suffering from motion sickness. It is not horribly uncomfortable, but it is there in the background, nonetheless. Overlaying this I am still chilled and relaxed.

T+2:35 A meal has arrived. This could be a challenge.

T+3:10 I got through it, meaning that I ate it, but with little enjoyment. There may be a degree of appetite suppression in play here, and certainly, taste isn’t accentuated.

I am now fading somewhat. The feeling of queasiness remains, and I am increasingly tired. Indeed, I feel I could fall asleep easily if I lie down. I am still functional but clearly zoned-out, and I am now sweating a little. This isn’t particularly pleasant, and I am relieved not to have snorted any further lines.

T+3:15 This has now taken a further turn for the worse. The dizziness continues to increase, as does the sleepiness, so I head to bed. I lie in the dark, drifting and feeling quite unwell. I attempt to rise a couple of times over the next half hour, but I fail, as the spinning head and general malaise is too intense.

T+3:50. I force myself up and head downstairs. I suddenly feel heaviness in my gut, and I vomit: not repeatedly, but I expel the most recent contents of my stomach. I lie down again for 10 minutes before rising once more. This is not good, at all.

T+4:00 I begin to feel slightly better. I am still dizzy, but less intensely, and I am less somnolent, although I could easily have continued to sleep had I wished.

These aspects have taken me by surprise. I Google heroin and vomiting. This is common; so common that I can’t believe that I was unaware of it. For example, ‘Talk To Frank’, which is always quick off the mark with negatives, points out: “The first dose of heroin can bring about dizziness and vomiting.”

It appears that nausea and vomiting are common features for many, and not only for the first dose. HowToKickHeroin.Com describes it like this:

Strangely enough, getting nauseous and throwing up is part of the heroin addict lifestyle. Actually, many addicts glean pleasure from throwing up because they perceive it to mean “strong heroin”," and “In hospitals, nausea is expected to occur in 25 – 30 percent of patients treated with opioid drugs. However, since heroin involves greater average dosing and subsequent amplified effects it results in higher than average nauseating events.”

Well… now I know.

T+5:20 I still feel ill. I suffer a further bout of vomiting. The motion-like sickness persists. It is awful.

I am thinking with clarity and can function, but I am poorly. One decision is taken already however: the rest of the 100mg is binned. Perhaps I took too much of it. Regardless, this body load is far too high to justify any further testing or experimentation.

T+6:00 Slowly, too slowly, I am heading back to baseline. This has not been a good experience. The onset and peak were nice but not particularly wonderful, and the aftermath has been horrible.

Overnight, sleep was sparse and in the morning I woke with a headache. A low level hangover persisted through the early part of the day.

Why on earth do people put themselves through this, and how do they repeat it frequently enough to become addicted? Never again!

WARNING: At the time of writing this page, reports of heroin having been cut with fentanyl and similar chemicals are all too common. Given that fentanyl is typically 30-50 times more potent than heroin, the consequences are inevitable. Test, measure and allergy check your gear carefully before even thinking about using it.


It hopefully goes without saying that if you use heroin you should never shortcut the harm reduction messages documented throughout this book. However, there are a few opioid safety steps which are widely presented across health centric Internet sites which are worth repeating, even though they have largely been covered.

The first of these is to test your supply to ensure that it is indeed heroin (and not fentanyl for example) and also to establish its purity/strength. This is hard to over emphasize.

Another is that it is very unwise to take heroin when you are alone, for rather obvious reasons.

A common piece of advice is to always use a clean needle if you inject. I would also refer you to the IV segment in the first section of this book. Again, please note that IV in itself is a terrible idea from a safety perspective.

On the first signs that you or someone you are with may have overdosed, seek medical assistance immediately (call 999/911 or whatever is required in your territory).

Never mix your heroin with other depressants (such as alcohol or benzodiazepines). Note that generally poly-drug use with heroin is particularly risky.

If snorting, refer to the segment on nasal care in the first section of this book.

Take particular care with respect to dose if you are changing from one RoA to another.

Find a comfortable safe-space in which to use your heroin.

A measure specific to opioids is that you should always carry naloxone (narcon). This is a medication used to block the effects of opioids, and is often used to counter decreased breathing in an overdose scenario. Again, the importance of this is hard to over state.

Remember that tolerance is real: if you are new to this drug don’t simply take what your friends or colleagues are taking (hopefully this is obvious). Equally, if you have had a break from your last use your tolerance will have diminished or disappeared, so don’t start from where you left off.

If your use of heroin is becoming habitual or worse, consider treatment options and support. Please don’t delay in choosing this route.

Finally, and I’m probably becoming an annoyance at this stage, re-read the Ten Commandments of Safer Drug Use and the rest of the safety data offered in this book.