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Heroin Quick Facts
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Globe and Mail Update
Saturday, August 11, 2001

  • A highly addictive drug, heroin is processed from morphine - a substance which is extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant.
  • The drug is usually a powder, either white or brown.
  • There has been a shift from injecting heroin to snorting or smoking because of increased purity and the misconception that if used in this manner, the drug will not be addictive, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health
  • "Smack," "H," "skag" and "junk" are street names for heroin
  • Afghanistan still surpasses Burma as the world's largest opium producer. Despite this, Southeast Asia is the principal source of heroin in Canada, the RCMP said in its report Drug situation in Canada 2000
  • Youth drug use is increasing. According to a 1999 report of Ontario high schools, 26 per cent of junior high and high school students reported using cannabis - the highest rate since the survey began in 1974.
  • In the same survey, the usage rates of other drugs increased between 1997 and 1999. Ecstasy, or MDMA increased to 7.3 per cent from 2.9; cocaine to 6.4 per cent from 2.7; methamphetamine to 7.2 per cent from 2.1; tranquilizers to 4 per cent from 0.6; and stimulants to 7.9 per cent from 3.3.
  • The preference for injecting heroin led to a Finnish outbreak of the AIDS virus at the end of the 1990s, largely because drug users shared needles and syringes. Deaths from overdose have shot up in recent years - because the substance circulated in Finland is relatively pure, or high in heroin content, the risk of overdosing is high, especially for young, inexperienced users, Finland's oldest anti-drugs group, Irti Huumeista reports.

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