whats smack got to do with it

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Heroin (smack, brown, H, brown,            to prevent long-term mental illness         (persistent and false ideas or beliefs)
gear) is one of a group of drugs           developing. For instance heroin can         and difficulty thinking, with thoughts
known as ‘opiates’ or ‘narcotic            dampen down symptoms in people              and words becoming scrambled.
analgesics’.                               with schizophrenia.
                                                                                       Opiods like heroin were once given
Like other drugs, heroin affects           DEPRESSION,          ANXIETY       &        to try to control these symptoms.
different people in different ways. It     HEROIN                                      They worked, but the treatment
depends on your size, your weight,         Regular users of depressant drugs           wore off very quickly and the
your state of health, how you take it,     often feel like their lives have lost       addiction became as big a
how much you take, whether you are         meaning. They can lose all their self-      problem as the mental illness.
used to it, how you are feeling at the     respect and even become suicidal.
time and what other drugs are in                                                       Schizophrenia is not uncommon in
your body.                                 Withdrawing     from     heroin    is       heroin users, who can use it as a
                                           unpleasant but the anxiety which            kind of self-medication. Because
The effects also depend on the             goes along with it and what                 heroin reduces the distress caused
situation – for example, whether you       withdrawal does to your nervous             by    hallucinations   and    other
are alone or in a social setting.          system can lead to panic attacks. It        symptoms       of    schizophrenia,
                                           is even possible for users to become        treatment with more effective
Opiates like heroin, morphine or           paranoid.                                   medications is often left too long,
pethidine slow down your nervous                                                       and instead of getting the problem
system and the messages going              Heroin     &    Emotions:      heroin       under control, it is left until it
between your brain and your body.          produces its sudden, intense                becomes chronic and much harder
They block physical, mental and            feelings of pleasure and a sense of         to manage.
emotional responses.                       well-being and calm drowsiness that
                                           follows by working on the limbic            If you have schizophrenia you can
Sudden withdrawal from heroin              system (the part of your brain that         experience break through psychosis
won’t kill you, unless you are using       controls emotions). This usually lasts      when cutting down or stopping
other drugs at the same time, or you       for 3 or 4 hours, but the after-effect      therefore it is a good idea to obtain
are in poor health.                        is the opposite: restlessness,              specialist help from a drug and/or
                                           agitation and cravings.                     mental health specialist to help you
It is much less dangerous than                                                         through this safely.
withdrawal from drugs like alcohol or      These are among withdrawal
benzodiazepines.                           symptoms and usually peak by the            BIPOLAR        DISORDER          AND
                                           fourth day if you stopped using. The        HEROIN
HEROIN & MENTAL HEALTH                     irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite,   What is true of schizophrenia is also
Pure heroin given under medical            vomiting, elevated heart rate, muscle       true of bipolar disorder (manic-
supervision does not cause mental          spasms and emotional depression             depressive illness). In addition, the
illness and it does relatively little      start to subside after 6 or 7 days but      anxiety and stress of the lifestyle of
damage to the various organs of the        depression, anxiety, insomnia, loss         many heroin users becomes a
body. But important effects and            of appetite, periods of agitation and       trigger for mood swings.
interactions should be considered if       a continued craving for the drug may
you are using it or thinking of using it   last for periods of months and even         These mood swings are mimicked
in the future.                             years.                                      by the rush of intense pleasure and
                                                                                       the strong feeling of wellbeing which
Early intervention for mental health       SCHIZOPHRENIA AND HEROIN                    heroin gives, and by the loss of
problems gives much better results.        The      main      symptoms        of       appetite, energy, hunger and sexual
Heroin hides the symptoms of some          schizophrenia are hallucinations            urges that follow. These plus the
mental illnesses, which means users        (especially hearing voices that other       swings in mood between being
might not get treatment early enough       people do not hear), delusions              stoned, drying out, hassling for
drugs, avoiding the law, hiding your     shared needles, syringes, filters,       worker knows what you are taking. If
habit, trying to score, watching what    spoon, water or water receptacles. It    you see a mental health worker, be
is happening to friends and family all   is worth getting your doctor to test     sure they understand your heroin
help to mask the bipolar illness.        you for blood borne infections.          use, including how much and how
                                         Treatment given early can cure or        often you use!
Heroin doesn’t seem to be the first      significantly improve a blood borne
choice for people with bipolar           infection!                               Remember – you can overdose and
disorder. Those who do use heroin                                                 even die if you have laid off heroin
find it is a lot harder to overcome      HEROIN AND OTHER DRUGS                   for a while, say after an admission to
their illness, even with medication.     Heroin     combines     with    other    hospital or a spell inside, never
Heroin stops mood stabilising drugs      depressant drugs (like alcohol,          restart heroin on your previous dose.
(like lithium) working properly and      benzos or other opiates), which          Your body and breathing won’t take
can make you quite ill if you use        increase the risks. A relatively low     it because the lay off will have
heroin at the same time.                 quantity of heroin can easily become     reduced your tolerance to the drug.
                                         an overdose if it is taken with other    This counts no matter how you take
IS HEROIN ADDICTIVE?                     drugs.                                   it, IV or smoked.
Yes. It is one of the most addictive
substances we know about next to         Heroin & Cannabis – cannabis             If someone O/D’s - call an
benzos and alcohol! Regular users        causes the heart to race, but            ambulance and stay with them, put
become dependent on it after just a      reduces the amount of oxygen in the      them in the recovery position and if
few days of regular use and many         bloodstream. That plus its sedative      they stop breathing give them mouth
go on to suffer long-term social and     effects combines with heroin to          to mouth resuscitation. Stay with
psychical effects of addiction.          make an overdose a lot more likely.      them - Police do not attend O/D
                                                                                  ambulance      calls   in    Greater
Users often spend less on things like    Heroin & Alcohol - opiates plus          Manchester.
housing and food and, combined           alcohol boosts the sedative effect of
with reduced appetite, this can lead     both and increase the risk of a fatal    If you want to know more about
to malnutrition, infection, and          overdose. Drinking alcohol is a          opiates and your mental health or
financial problems.                      common       factor     in   heroin      want a fact sheet on another
                                         overdose     and     death!    Other     substance call Manchester Dual
IS HEROIN A DANGEROUS                    sedatives (sleeping pills, anxiety       Diagnosis Service on 0161 720
DRUG?                                    medications         and        some      2005.
Heroin rarely comes in a pure form.      antidepressants)       are      also
Street heroin is a mixture of            dangerous.                               Acknowledgements:
substances, such as caffeine, sugar,                                              D.Rich, SW Sydney Area Health
etc.                                     Heroin & Stimulants - Speed,             Service.
                                         cocaine and ecstasy, along with less     S.Bazire, Psychotropic Drug Directory.
                                                                                  Drugscope, Drug Abuse Briefing.
Some additives can be very               potent stimulants like Sudafed
                                                                                  Manchester Dual Diagnosis Service: A
poisonous, causing collapsed veins,      combine with heroin to have a very       Collaboration between Manchester Drug
tetanus, and abscesses. They             dangerous effect on the heart and        & Alcohol Strategy Team and
damage the heart, lungs, liver and       blood pressure. They can be a lethal     Manchester Mental Health & Social
brain. Because the users can’t know      combination.                             Care Trust.
the purity, or how much they are
really getting, it is easy to            PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATION AND
accidentally overdose and even die.      WITHDRAWAL
                                         Reducing heroin use or withdrawal
The way that people store and use        needs special care if you are taking
the drug only adds to the health         medication.      A    number        of
risks, and the combined effects of       medications reduce the body’s
the drug and the drug lifestyle          resistance    to   seizures    (fits),
results in high rates of AIDS,           including antipsychotic medications
hepatitis and other illnesses.           some anxiety drugs and a number of
                                         antidepressants.      Your      best
If you have injected heroin or any       safeguard is to make sure your
other substance you may have             doctor or mental health / drugs