Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant.
Heroin can be injected, snorted/sniffed, or smoked. It is highly addictive and enters the brain very quickly. Contrary to popular opinion, all three methods can lead to addiction and other severe health problems.
There is no cookie cutter heroin user. In fact, many of heroin’s newest addicts are in their teens or early 20s; many also come from middle- or upper-middle-class suburban families.
Tolerance to heroin develops with regular use, so after a short time more heroin is needed to produce the same level of intensity. This results in addiction.
Health risks to using heroin include:
High risk of infections such as HIV/AIDS
Infection of the heart lining and valves
When an addict stops using, he experiences physical withdrawal which can begin within just a few hours since the last use. Symptoms include:
Cold flashes with goose bumps
Muscle and bone pain
Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose and can last up to a week. Some people experience withdrawal symptoms for as long as a few months after stopping the drug.
Sudden withdrawal by heavily dependent users who are in poor health can be fatal.
Heroin was first manufactured in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company of Germany and marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as a remedy for morphine addiction.
Heroin craving can persist years after drug use stops, and can be triggered by exposure to stress or people, places, and things associated with drug use.
In heroin’s purest form it is a fine, white powder. More often than not, it is found to be rose gray, brown or black.
Toxic ingredients are usually mixed with heroin so the true purity of the drug and its strength is usually hard to really know.
Approximately 13.5 million people in the world take opioids (opium-like substances), including 9.2 million who use heroin.