Heroin Abuse and Addiction
Heroin is a powerful narcotic drug commonly found on the streets that can be injected, smoked, or inhaled. Parents fear this drug is making a comeback among teens. We are going to look at how heroine affects the body and brain. This article is in reference to an article produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a federal government agency.
Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug narcotic. It is both the most abused narcotic opiate and the most rapidly acting of all opiates. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of certain varieties of poppy plants.
Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as “black tar heroin” Although more pure heroin is becoming more common on the streets, most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Note that Quinine is another pharmaceutical drug used as anti-malarial.
Street heroin can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or/and eventual death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other blood borne diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.
Heroin routes of consumption are either through injection, sniffing or snoring. Due to it’s high addiction, most women have reported that they first started heroine when another person (usually a man) blew it through their mouth as a kiss. Typically, a heroin abuser may inject up to four times a day. Intravenous injection provides the greatest intensity and most rapid onset of euphoria (7 to 8 seconds), while intra-muscular injection produces a relatively slow onset of euphoria (5 to 8 minutes). This is the case with all drugs that are injectable either in the veins or in the muscles. When heroin is sniffed or smoked, peak effects are usually felt within 10 to 15 minutes. Although smoking and sniffing heroin do not produce a “rush” as quickly or as intensely as intravenous injection, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) researchers have confirmed that all three forms of heroin administration are addictive.
Since injections bypasses toxins filter (liver), the effect is quicker and more profound. Injection continues to be the predominant method of heroin use among addicted users seeking treatment; however, researchers have observed a shift in heroin use patterns, from injection to sniffing and smoking. In fact, sniffing/snorting heroin is now a widely reported means of taking heroin among users admitted for drug treatment in drug rehab centers all over America.
With the shift in heroin abuse patterns comes an even more diverse group of dangerous users. The reason these abusers are dangerous is because they can influence teenagers almost 100% of the times. Older users (over 30) continue to be one of the largest user groups in most national data. However, several sources indicate an increase in new, young users across the country who are being lured by cheap, high-purity heroin that can be sniffed or smoked instead of injected. Heroin has also been appearing in more affluent communities across America.