The use of heroin continues to climb in most areas. The number of varieties and sources of heroin available, combined with an increased domestic demand make the heroin market the fastest growing drug market reported. While there are indications of increased use of heroin among younger, suburban users, it is the cadre of older, inner-city heroin users that drive the heroin market (DEA 1996). Almost all areas report that the majority of heroin users are older drug users (over 30) who have been using for many years. However, many areas are reporting an increase in the number of new or younger users.
Heroin (AKA: smack, horse, mud, brown sugar) has been a part of the drug culture for many years. It is primarily used through injection causing wide spread concerns for everyone. Syringes lost or left behind by users carry disease and narcotics which can effect anyone who comes in contact with them. Syringes from heroin addicts have been found at bus benches, vacant lots by schools, alleyways and public bathrooms. Diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, and tetanus are common amongst heroin addicts (Strategy 1996). Heroin is an opiate or a downer and is made from the resin taken from the seedpod of the poppy plant. The resin is processed in a variety of ways resulting in the final product known as heroin. The processing method determines the appearance of heroin as it is seen on the street. Black tar heroin looks like tootsie roll candy and/or dark caramel and has a strong vinegar odor to it. Black Tar heroin is packaged in small pieces of aluminum foil, tightly wrapped plastic and/or cellophane from cigarette packages. .
The heroin affects the brain's pleasure and pain system. It interferes with the brain's ability to perceive pain and activates the brain's pleasure system. The drug is fast acting, especially when injected or smoked. Injected heroin reaches the brain in 15-30 seconds, smoked heroin reaches the brain in 7 seconds" (Mckim, 1996).