Addictive Potential: High
Mandatory Minimum Sentence: 5 years for 100-999 grams mixture
Mechanism of Action: mu-opioid receptor agonist
Heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine and diamorphine, is a semi-synthetic opioid. Heroin is processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants grown in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar), Southwest Asia (Afghanistan and Pakistan), Mexico, and Colombia. It comes in several forms, the main ones being black tar heroin from Mexico (found primarily in the western United States) and white heroin from Colombia (primarily sold on the East Coast).
It mimics endorphin and thus causes a high sense of well-being when entered into the bloodstream (usually through injection). For this reason it is used both as a pain-killer and a recreational drug. It has a high addiction potential, and frequent administration may cause a rapid development of tolerance by the user, especially when compared to other substances. Though occasional use may not lead to symptoms of withdrawal.
Popular street names for heroin include gear, diesel, smack, B, skag, Bobby, black tar, horse, junk, jack, jenny, brown, brown sugar, dark, dope, dragon, bitch, gak, boy, and H. An estimated 898,000 people chronically or occasionally use heroin in the United States (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 2003).
Health Risks Involved with IV Heroin Use:
Injecting heroin is a high-risk behavior that can be further exacerbated by reusing or sharing needles and/or failing to clean the needle with bleach after each use. These actions can increase a user’s risk for blood-borne infections, such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and herpes simplex virus. Users who use this route of administration also often develop deep vein thrombosis. In 2006, 16 percent of new HIV cases involved intravenous drug use as a mode of transmission, and 27.6 percent of persons living with HIV/AIDS in 2007 could have contracted the disease through intravenous drug use (Samhsa).
One of the most significant effects of heroin use is addiction. With regular heroin use, tolerance to the drug develops. Once this happens, the user must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity. As higher doses of the drug are used over time, physical dependence and addiction to the drug develop.
- Opiate Detoxification
- Heroin Addiction – Five Reasons to Stop Using
- Visit NeuroSoup’s Self-Help Addiction Center
Deaths and Overdoses:
Because heroin users do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at a high risk of overdose or death. The effects of a heroin overdose include:
- Slow and shallow breathing
- blue lips and fingernails
- clammy skin
- possibly death
Additional resources on heroin-related deaths and overdoses:
- Fatal heroin ‘overdose’: a review
- The role of ethanol abuse in the etiology of heroin-related death
- Heroin overdose: causes and consequences
- Strategies for preventing heroin overdose
- Fluctuations in heroin purity and the incidence of fatal heroin overdose
- Frequency of non-fatal heroin overdose: survey of heroin users recruited in non-clinical settings
|Mecke Reagent||Marquis Reagent|
(Info provided by Sirchie, 2010)
- Treatment of acute opioid withdrawal with ibogaine
- Ketamine psychotherapy for heroin addiction: immediate effects and two-year follow-up
- The use of ibogaine in the treatment of addictions
- Septic deep venous thrombosis in intravenous drug users
More Informational Resources: