A heroin pipe generally looks like a small glass pipe.
Heroin is an incredibly addictive drug that is one of the drugs behind our current opioid abuse and overdose epidemic in the U.S.
There are three primary known ways of ingesting heroin:
When heroin is smoked, a heroin pipe is commonly used.
Why Do People Use a Heroin Pipe?
Smoking heroin is a common way of using the drug due to the intense and quick high it produces. Smoking heroin is commonly called chasing the dragon on the street.
Smoking heroin is probably the easiest and quickest way of doing the drug. There is also less negative social stigma with pipes than there are with needles.
For new users, smoking heroin may be viewed as a more attractive way to do the drug. Some people who will not engage in injection drug use due to this stigma will have no problem smoking heroin.
The fear of being found with track marks on the body from injection use is another reason why smoking may be chosen as an alternative. Infections or diseases from non-sterile needles or contaminated blood from another user is not a factor when smoking heroin.
Some people view smoking heroin to have less addiction risk than injecting the drug. The reality is that addiction can happen just as easily from smoking heroin as it can from injecting it.
Types of Pipes Used
A heroin pipe can look like any small glass pipe. These types of pipes are also often used for smoking meth or crack cocaine.
Glass heroin pipes are used in the same manner as crack pipes. Heroin is placed into the bowl of the pipe, and a lighter is used as the heat source to smoke the substance. The pipe is either discarded or kept in a hidden place after use.
Plastic Pipes & Glass Straws
Plastic pipes and glass straws are often used to smoke heroin as well. Aluminum foil tubes or soda cans can also be used as makeshift heroin pipes.
Slang for Heroin Pipes
When people are trying to avoid detection of heroin use, they may use many nicknames for the pipes they use. Heroin pipes are often called by names like these: chillums, whistles, pieces, or pookies.
The Dangers of Using a Heroin Pipe
Many people think that if they smoke heroin instead of injecting it, they will avoid health problems, which is simply untrue.
Ingesting heroin in any form can cause health problems due to the way the drug interacts with your body. Standard risks associated with any type of heroin use include the following:
- Infections of the heart valves
- Brain damage
- Respiratory depression
- Constipation and intestinal issues
- Sexual dysfunction for men
- Menstrual problems for women
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Mental health disorders
- Overdose, which can lead to death
Although smoking heroin might seem slightly safer and more innocuous than injecting the drug, the process still puts unnecessary stress on bodily processes, clouds the brain, and can quickly lead to addiction or even death. Smoking heroin is considered high-risk behavior.
People who smoke the drug are at high risk of lung damage, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as all the risks associated with heroin use in general.
- Smoking Heroin With Cannabis Versus Injecting Heroin: Unexpected Impact on Treatment Outcomes. (December 2019). Harm Reduction Journal.
- Heroin Pipe Distribution to Reduce High-Risk Drug Consumption Behaviors Among People Who Use Heroin: A Pilot Quasi-Experimental Study. (September 2022). Harm Reduction Journal.
- The Association Between Chronic Heroin Smoking and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. (November 2021). Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences.
- Screening Heroin Smokers Attending Community Drug Clinics for Change in Lung Function: A Cohort Study. (March 2020). CHEST.