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    Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug and it is derived from the morphine alkaloid found in opium and is roughly two to three times more potent. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the narcotics. As of 2006, there are more than 50 million heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs addicts. Heroin exhibits euphoric ("rush"), anxiolytic and analgesic central nervous system properties.

    Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky stuff. Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is "cut" with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Street heroin can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin is most often injected, however, it may also be vaporized ("smoked"), sniffed ("snorted"), used as a suppository, or orally ingested. Smoking and sniffing heroin do not produce a "rush" as quickly or as intensely as intravenous injection. Oral ingestion does not usually lead to a "rush", but use of heroin in suppository form may have intense euphoric effects. Heroin can be addictive by any given route. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment. The withdrawal syndrome from heroin aka "cold turkey" may begin within six to 24 hours of discontinuation of the drug; however, this time frame can fluctuate with the degree of tolerance as well as the amount of the last consumed dose.

    Cocaine is sometimes used in combination with heroin, and is referred to as a speedball when injected or moonrocks when smoked together. Cocaine acts as a stimulant, whereas heroin acts as a depressant.

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