Heroin is an opiate that is derived from the opium poppy; it is made from the sap of the flower. As a pain killing drug (analgesic), it has been an effective pain reducing medication for several thousand years. The physiological way that heroine becomes addictive is by affecting several regions of the brain. One area affects production of pleasurable sensations and the other affects the area that causes physical dependence. Heroin imitates existing chemicals in the brain – known as endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for blocking pain and creating feelings of pleasure.

Most heroin that is illegally imported into the United States comes from Colombia, Mexico and Asia. Other countries that produce this drug are Thailand, Afghanistan, Laos, Burma, Iran and Pakistan.

How Heroin is Processed

Heroin is processed from opium resin, which is refined to morphine and then changed to heroin by the addition of chemicals. The brown powder, which is 70% pure heroin, is mixed with acetic anhydride and hydrochloric acid and is then dried and sieved.

Manufacture of this drug takes place in laboratories in remote areas with fairly primitive equipment where the product is formed into bricks for bulk shipment. Other means of smuggling is doing by couriers (or “mules”) who swallow smaller amounts of heroin in either latex balloons or condoms. If these internal balloons should accidentally be punctured, the instantaneous flooding of the courier’s body with heroin would result in certain death. However, the mules are aware of this possible danger and seem to believe that the $1,000-$2,000 they earn for each smuggling trip is worth the risk.

Heroin sold on the street is rarely pure. The contents of a bag can be cut with any of a number of other ingredients, which might be quinine, powdered milk, starch or sugar. Or for those addicts who are unlucky, the dealer might have decided to cut the heroin with brick dust. The most desirable from an addict’s point of view is China White since this is the strongest heroin available.

Some of the street names of heroin are “H”, “skag”, “junk” and “smack”. In the western part of the United States, Mexican Black Tar is popular with heroin addicts.

There are a number of serious health problems associated with heroin abuse. One, of course, is the possibility of an overdose that could be fatal. Those users who share needles and who choose to inject the drug intravenously (into a vein) or intramuscularly (into a muscle) run the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.

Other health issues arising from chronic use of heroin can include:

  • liver disease
  • abscesses
  • infection of heart lining and valves
  • cellulites
  • pneumonia
  • depressed respiration
  • clogging of blood vessels

and a variety of other health problems.

When an individual uses heroin over an extended period of time on a regular basis, he or she will develop a tolerance to the drug. What this means is that higher doses must be used to achieve the pleasurable affect that initially occurred with a lesser dose. As a result, the body has become used to the higher dosage and if drug use is either reduced or stopped, the individual will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Suboxone is a popular opiate replacement therapy often prescribed by doctors to treat heroin addiction and addiction to other drugs. However, since it’s a form of opiate there are related that users need to be mindful of, and Suboxone dependance is possible. Because you’ll need a prescription for Suboxone medication, you can obtain and administer the drug in a safer manner, and whilst on Suboxone the effects of heroin will be blocked since the suboxone occupies the opioid receptors in the brain.


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