SBIRT Initiative We Ask Everyone About Heroin - IDHS 4557

State of Illinois
Department of Human Services

We Ask Everyone About Heroin

The Illinois SBIRT Initiative Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

Did You Know?

It is not safe to stop using heroin "Cold Turkey."

Symptoms from withdrawal can start as early as 6-12 hours from the last time of use and those symptoms can be very serious.

Withdrawal symptoms to watch for:

  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Clammy skin
  • Blue lips or blue fingernails
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Coma

You don't have to do this alone:

  • Contact your doctor if you are thinking about making a change
  • Together you will set up a plan for a safe way to make a change

How can I learn more?

Visit this helpful website:


Heroin is a highly addictive narcotic drug that often causes dependence.

Heroin is made of morphine, which is a very powerful painkiller. Heroin acts like a painkiller in the body, too, but over time it breaks down the parts of the brain that allow people to feel pleasure.

Heroin sold on the street is rarely pure. Instead, it is "cut" with other drugs or substances. It is difficult to know the strength of each dose, so users are at a high risk of overdose or death.

Needles and Heroin

Sharing needles to inject heroin is very risky. When people share needles, they are at risk for getting: 

  • HIV

Improper needle use can also cause complications such as injecting an air bubble into the bloodstream, which can cause a stroke.

Effects of Heroin


  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Alternate between alert and drowsy ("nodding off")
  • Slower reaction times


  • Dryness


  • Weak


  • Warm
  • Flushed (red)
  • Abscesses
  • Dry


  • Constipation
  • Weight loss due to malnourishment


  • Miscarriage
  • Premature delivery
  • Low birth weight
  • Physical dependence in the baby: crying, tight muscles, vomiting, seizures


  • Numbness in body
  • Heaviness in body
  • Fatigue


  • Infection


  • Slower breathing
  • Risk of pneumonia
  • Chance of tuberculosis

Heroin use can affect your everyday life. You may notice significant changes in yourself, including:

  • Feeling desperate
  • A change in your personality that makes you feel depressed or irritated
  • Isolation from friends or family members
  • Not wanting to spend time doing what you enjoy doing (spending time with friends and family or pursuing hobbies or interests)
Something to try:

Community Resources:

Behavioral Specialist:

Name ________________________________

Contact ______________________________

Name ________________________________Contact ______________________________

Useful Websites/Literature:

Thanks to the Indiana Prevention Resource Center for sharing their original brochure with us. This publication was made possible by Grant Number TI23455 from the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Programs, activities and employment opportunities in the Illinois Department of Human Services are open and accessible to any individual or group without regard to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin or religion. The department is an equal opportunity employer and practices affirmative action and reasonable accommodation programs.

DHS 4557 (N-08-15) SBIRT Heroin Printed by the Authority of the State of Illinois. PO#15-2113 650 copies