Heroin and Methadone

This information is available from PAD’s Parent & Community Handbook, 7th edition.


(smack, “H”, skag, junk)

Heroin is an “opioid” drug, processed from morphine, a natural substance that is taken from the seed pod of the Asian poppy plant. It usually appears as a white or brown powder. Pure heroin is usually diluted with other powder substances, such as sugar, when it is sold on the street.  As a powder, heroin can be sniffed through the nose or smoked or diluted with water and then injected into a vein or under the skin.  Heroin abuse has been associated with the use of needles and, therefore, such serious health conditions as fatal overdoses, collapsed veins and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. An overdose can cause death.  Recently there has been a shift from injecting heroin to smoking or snorting (sniffing it through the nose).  Heroin is a very addictive drug and all forms of using the drug can result in physical dependence.  Withdrawal from the drug can be extremely painful and uncomfortable for the user.


  • the person may feel a surge of intense pleasure (“euphoria”)
  • the person may feel a warm flushing of the skin, a dry mouth and heaviness in their limbs
  • the person then may experience a drowsy state and clouded mental functioning
  • After repeated and long term use, the person my develop collapsed veins (from injections) or a nasal soreness (from snorting) The person may develop heart valve infections or liver disease



Methadone is also an “opioid” drug, but unlike heroin, it is synthetically produced in a lab.  It is used to treat dependence on other opioid drugs.  Methadone is increasingly prescribed as a treatment option for people who are addicted to heroin or abusing prescription pain relievers.  A methadone maintenance program provides a medically safer alternative for people dealing with opioid addictions.

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