The University of Arizona

Health Consequences of Illicit Drug Use
Health Effects of Heroin :
General Health Effects

The administration of heroin generally creates a high or euphoric effect in the user.  The timing and intensity of this effect can vary by route of administration as discussed in the section on the pharmacology of heroin.  Other effects after heroin administration can include flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and a feeling of heaviness in the extremities.[1,2]  In addition, these symptoms may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching.[2]  After the initial euphoria, the user sometimes experiences an alternately wakeful and drowsy state.  Heroin is a depressant that inhibits the central nervous system and as a result, the mental functioning of a user is clouded after heroin administration.[1,2]  In addition, cardiac function and breathing is slowed down, sometimes to the point of death.  During the high, the user often feels relaxed, sedated, calm, worry-free, and free of pain.[2]



  • (1) NIDA. Heroin. Rockville, MD: NIH; 2006 May.
  • (2) NIDA. Methamphetamine: Abuse and Addiction. Rockville, MD; 2006 Sep.