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[ Opinion ] [ Science and Tech ]

What Is Heroin And What It Can Do To You

I think we all want to know about what heroin really is and how Heroin Detox really looks like.

People get heroin because it’s the cheaper opioid.

Heroin in it’s purest form is white powder. But most of it appears brown. It gets snorted or smoked in this form. Its smoke can be inhaled through a straw, a process known as “chasing the dragon.” If they are injecting it, it gets melted on a spoon. Then put in the needle.

Heroin is processed from morphine which is extracted from the seed pods of some varieties of poppy plants. Sometimes it is mixed with other powder – sugar, starch, powdered milk or quinine by drug dealers. Sometimes the “black tar” heroin might be seen.

Black tar heroin is produced in Mexico and is sold mainly in the western states, west of the Mississippi River. It is typically sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal. It gets its dark color from the way it is processed which leaves behind impurities. Black tar is usually diluted and injected into the veins.

All forms can have anything in it! Many times it is cut with other substances – including poisons like strychnine (a pesticide). Users never really know just how pure the heroin they are buying is, and therefore, run the risk of overdose and death, which also makes Heroin Detox or getting sober so hard.

Since pain pills are harder to get now, there’s been an increase in heroin use. Plus it’s cheaper to buy on the street than to get prescriptions for pain pills.

From 2002 until 2012, the number of people diagnosed for heroin dependence or abuse doubled from 214,000 to 467,000! That’s just unbelievable! Any family can experience this! From big inner cities, to urban areas.

Users who inject heroin feel it’s effects the quickest. When heroin is mainlined, users can usually begin to experience a feeling of euphoria within 7 to 8 seconds. When it is smoked, the user will typically feel its peak effects in 10 to 15 minutes. No matter how it’s used, it’s highly addictive.

Like many illicit drugs, heroin use can produce profound levels of tolerance and physical dependence. Tolerance means the user requires more and more of the drug to feel the same effects and dependence means withdrawal symptoms will manifest if the user attempts to quit using abruptly.

When heroin is used repeatedly it can cause actual changes in the physical structure and physiology of the brain which can create long-term imbalances in the neuronal and hormonal systems. These changes are difficult to reverse.

When they quit abruptly, don’t have any, they go into withdrawal within a few hours. The worst is between 24 and 48 hours and can subside after about a week. However, some experience symptoms for months.

Withdrawal can include insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, and muscle and bone pain. It can also cause cold flashes with goose bumps and sporadic leg movements.

Heroin addiction causes the user to experience uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior regardless of the consequences. Addiction is so profound, using and finding heroin can become their primary purpose in life.

The use of this drug can cause a wide variety of medical problems. Some of them are related to the effects of the drug itself, while others are related to how it is used or the additives mixed with the drug by street dealers.

Repeated use can cause lung complications caused in part by the drugs effect of depressing respiration, as well as the general poor health of the user. These complications can include tuberculosis and various types of pneumonia. It can also cause depression, constipation, sexual dysfunction in men, and irregular periods in women.

Users who snort heroin can experience damaged mucosal tissues in their noses as well as a perforated nasal septum. Injection heroin users often have bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves. They can also experience scarred or collapsed veins, abscesses and other soft-tissue infections.

Because some of the additives that street heroin is mixed with can include substances that do not dissolve well, they can clog the blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys and brain. When this happens small sections of cells in these vital organs become infected or even die. Also, the body’s immune reaction to these or other contaminants can cause arthritis or other rheumatologic problems.

Now if they are sharing needles, there’s other risks. They can contract hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and many other blood-borne viruses. More effects:

Short-Term Effects:


Depressed respiration

Clouded mental functioning

Nausea and vomiting

Suppression of pain

Spontaneous abortion

Long-Term Effects:


Infectious disease

Collapsed veins

Bacterial infections


Infection of heart lining and valves

Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems

Liver and kidney disease

Quitting heroin is extremely difficult, but for those who have a sincere desire or motivation to quit, there are a variety of treatments available. These include both behavioral therapies and medical treatments. A lot of times, both is best.

Usually heroin abusers will go through a Heroin Detox program before beginning their long-term treatment program. During Heroin Detox, patients are sometimes given medications to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. Although the Heroin Detox process itself is not addiction treatment, it can be an effective first step when followed by behavioral therapy or medical treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug abuse research.

The medications to help with withdrawal are Methadone and Subutex (Suboxone). Suboxone is a medication that contains buprenorphine and naloxone. It has been approved to be prescribed by certified physicians, making daily trips to a clinic unnecessary as required with methadone. There’s a generic form of this, making it cheaper.

One limit to the effectiveness of Naltrexone has been patient compliance, but a long-action, injectable version of the medication (Vivitrol) that can be administered once a month has improved patient compliance by eliminating daily doses.

They also need counseling to help get them back into a normal life. And help them to forgive themselves and figure out who they really are. A lot of this is done in rehab or Heroin Detox center. But they might need more when getting out.

I’m sorry this is so long, but I couldn’t see leaving anything out. I hope this helps you understand more about using heroin and the Heroin Detox process. It has helped me, that’s for sure.

If you need to read more, there’s posts on my blog.