Heroin By: Aimee Duncan
What is it? • Heroin is made from the resin of poppy plants. Sap-like opium is removed from the pod of the poppy flower. The opium is refined to make morphine, then it is further refined to make different forms of heroin. • Heroin is a depressant. It slows down the users breathing, depresses nerve transmitions, and also acts as a pain reliever. • Heroin enters the brain very quickly, this effect makes it extremely addictive. • Nearly 1 out of 4 people who try heroin become addicted.
What does it look like? • In its purest form, heroin is a fine white powder. But more often it is found to be gray, brown, or black in color. • “Black-tar” Heroin is dark brown, and has a tar like sticky feel to it. • Street names for heroin can change depending on where you are. The most common are Smack, H, Blacktar, Brown Sugar, Dope, or Horse.
History of Heroin • Bayer Pharmaceutical Company of Germany was the first to manufacture heroin in 1898. It was marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis and as a remedy for morphine addicts. • Opium addiction was a major problem in the United States during the 1850’s. The solution, they thought, was to give the addicts a less potent and “non-addictive” substitute, morphine. But morphine addiction soon became a bigger problem then opium addiction. They thought they found another “non-addictive” solution, which was heroin. However, Heroin was found to be much more addictive then morphine or opium.
Methods of Use • Heroin is usually injected, sniffed/snorted, or smoked. • Heroin users may inject up to four of five times a day. • Injecting heroin gives the user a much more intense high, as opposed to smoking or snorting. • When injected, it takes about 7 to 8 seconds for the user to feel the effects. • Injection is the predominant method of heroin use. But in recent studies of addicts seeking treatment, smoking or snorting heroin is becoming more popular.
Short-term Effects • After an injection of heroin, the user will feel a “rush” of euphoria. The skin will usually be flushed and warm, a dry mouth, and their arms and legs will feel heavy. • Another effect is going “on the nod”, which is an alternating state of drowsy-ness and being awake. • Mental functioning becomes clouded due to the depression of the central nervous system. • Other effects include slow or slurred speech, slowed movements, constricted pupils, droopy eyelids, vomiting, and constipation.
Long-term Effects • It’s not uncommon for chronic users to develop collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulites, and liver disease • Various types of pneumonia may result from the poor health condition of the abuser, as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. • Street heroin can have additives that do not dissolve and can result in clogging of the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver kidneys, and brain. • Street heroin can have additives that do not dissolve and can result in clogging of the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, liver kidneys, and brain.
Withdrawals • Addicts who quit using heroin experience very intense withdrawals. These withdrawals are very painful. • Typically withdrawal symptoms will begin 6 to 12 hours after the last dose, peaking within 1 to 3 days, and gradually subsiding over 5 to 7 days. • Early withdrawals symptoms include agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating, and yawning. • Later withdrawal symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, and vomiting.
5 Interesting Facts • 1. Many of new heroin addicts are in their teens or early twenty’s. • 2. When an addicts stops using, they experience intense withdrawals, and they can begin within just a few hours since the last use. These symptoms include restlessness, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes and goose bumps, muscle and bone pain. • 3. Heroin cravings can happen years after the addict has stopped using. • 4. 1 out of 4 people who try heroin become addicted. • 5. Heroin enters the brain very quickly, this is why it is extremely addictive.