Narconon - Heroin Abuse and Addiction Information

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an illegal, schedule I substance in the United States. A schedule I substance is illegal to, buy, manufacture, possess, or distribute {trade, sell, or give} without a DEA license. Heroin is a highly abused and addictive drug. It is the fastest acting of the opiate family. Heroin is derived from morphine, a naturally occurring chemical that is extracted from the scored seed pod of several varieties of the opium poppy.

Heroin is typically sold in black tar form but can also be found as a brownish or white powder.  About 95% of the heroin found on the street is cut with other substances such as starch, quinine, or powdered milk. So a user can never know exactly what they are putting into their body. There have been reports of toxic chemicals such as strychnine being found in heroin. Strychnine is most commonly found in rat poison.

What Are The Street Terms For Heroin?

China White

Capital H
Big H

How is Heroin Used?

Heroin can be used 3 primary ways. Heroin can be smoked, snorted intranasal or injected—these routes of administration work very rapidly and deliver the drug to the user’s brain in a very short period of time. Heroin takes effect in the user fastest when it is injected. Injecting is the use of a hypodermic needle to release the heroin directly into the user’s bloodstream. Snorting is the process of inhaling the powder form of heroin through the nose, where it can be absorbed into the nasal tissue, then released into the bloodstream. When a user smokes the heroin it is often referred to as chasing the dragon, as it is smoked on aluminum foil. Each of these methods is equally addictive and can lead to serious health issues.

What Affect Does Heroin Have On The Brain?

When Heroin enters the brain, it is converted to chemical morphine and binds to the user’s receptors opioid receptors. The brain actually has receptors designed to recognize opiates. These receptors are distributed throughout the human brain, and body. These receptors are most often those involved in the perception of reward, and pain. These opioid receptors can also be found in the brain stem—which is most often associated with the automatic processes critical for survival such as blood pressure, respiration, and arousal. Heroin overdoses usually involve the respiration system shutting down, leading to suffocation.

After an intravenous injection of heroin, users claim to experience an intense “rush” or surge of extreme euphoria. The “rush” is accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, lack of motivation, and clouded mental awareness. After this initial euphoric “rush” the user often begins to lose consciousness or “nod” off.  Users who do not inject heroin usually do not experience that initial “rush”, but all other effects are similar.

Over time with regular heroin use, the user develops a tolerance, in which the user’s mental and physical response to the heroin begins to decrease, and a larger amount of heroin is required to achieve the same high or euphoric effect. Heroin users are at a very high risk of addiction. Recent studies have shown an estimated 23% of individuals who use heroin will become dependent on it.

What Are The Health Effects Associated With Heroin Abuse?

The abuse of Heroin is associated with a multitude of health conditions including infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, respiratory problems, and fatal overdose. Chronic user may lead to infection in the lining of the heart, collapsed veins, abscesses, and kidney or liver disease, pulmonary complications, including pneumonias, and depressing effects on respiration. Along with the toxic effects of heroin itself, street heroin is found to contain toxic contaminants or adulterants that can clog blood vessels leading to the kidneys, lungs, liver or brain, causing permanent damage to the user’s vital organs.

Chronic use and abuse of heroin has shown to lead to physical dependence, a state in which the user’s body requires the drug to function on a normal level. If the dependent user stops use of the drug abruptly, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms. The majority of these symptoms can begin as early as a few hours after the last time the drug was used. These symptoms can include muscle and bone pain, restlessness, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps and muscle spasms. Users also experience severe craving for the drug during withdrawal, which can precipitate continued abuse and/or relapse. The most intense withdrawal symptoms are seen between 48 and 72 hours after the last use of the heroin and typically subside after about 1-2 weeks. Certain individuals may show persistent withdrawal symptoms for months following the last use.

For more information call Narconon at 800-468-6933.