Heroin, What Kind Of Drug Is It?

Heroin is classed as an opioid drug which is produced from morphine and it was discovered as the first alkaloid to be extracted from the opium poppy plant. Heroin comes in powder form and is usually white or brown in colour. Sometimes it can be found as a dark sticky black substance commonly known as “black tar heroin.”

The German company Bayer first extracted Heroin a long time ago in 1898. Back then, the newly discovered drug was considered a superior painkiller than morphine. Heroin also had the benefit of being effective in suppressing coughs. The word “Heroin” was derived from the German word “heroisch” , translated “Powerful”, “Heroic”

Diacetylmorphine is the scientific title for this addictive substance, but Heroin has many street names. The more common ones include “H,” “Smack” “Junk” “Skag” “Horse” and “Dope”

Heroin, what are the effects of this drug?

Users intravenously inject heroin and report a strong surge in a state of euphoria, some describe this feeling as a rush. A dry mouth with heaviness of feet and hands are usually accompanied by a clouded mental state. Some users also experience hot flushes. After the initial rush or euphoria users tend to alternate between drowsy and wakeful states.

Other possible side effects of Heroin, besides the contentment and peacefulness of euphoria are indifference to sexual urges and hunger. Inhibitions to fear and remorse are also repressed. Users are less aware of current environments or situations, external and internal.

The substance has a rapid effect and the painkilling effects of heroin are three times more powerful than the drug morphine.

Heroin – The Short Term Effects

  • Euphoria or Rush
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Mental function becomes clouded
  • Vomiting and Feelings of Nausea
  • Pain is suppressed

Heroin – Long Term Effects

  • Physical Dependence / Addiction
  • HIV/AIDS – Hepatitis B and C are possible from the use of shared needles
  • User veins can collapse
  • Viruses and Bacterial infections
  • Abscesses (Collections of Pus) under skin
  • Heart lining infections (Valves can also be affected)
  • Rheumatologic issues such as Arthritis

Heroin – The signs of abuse

When someone becomes addicted to the drug, their brains become affected in various negative ways. The possibility of heroin addicts showing most of these following signs is high.

  • Breathing becomes laboured and shallow
  • Tiredness or fatigue, various patterns of alertness
  • Skin wounds due to repeated injections
  • Boils and skin infections on skin areas from injections
  • Feelings of sickness and nausea
  • Vomiting, the body is trying to eject the drug
  • The appearance of the eyes become distant and glazed
  • Pupils become small and constricted
  • Loss of motivation becomes an issue
  • Distancing oneself from family members and friends
  • Speech becomes slurred, speaking is more difficult
  • Feelings of dizziness and disorientation
  • Forgetfulness of important things, lack of memory
  • Disinterest in the future or what is next in life
  • Appearance becomes unkempt, decreased self-discipline and lack of hygiene

Heroin – The Health Risks

Several serious health conditions are associated with Heroin abuse. Infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis are commonplace, so are miscarriage and fatal overdoses. Heavy or chronic users may suffer from collapsed veins.

The lining of the heart and valves can become infected. Other problems that may arise are kidney and liver disease, abscesses, gastrointestinal cramping and constipation. Pneumonia and pulmonary issues may occur because users generally suffer from poor health. These issues are heightened because of the drugs effect on breathing.

On top of the effect of Heroin itself, the toxins and additives in the street drugs can clog up the blood vessels leading to problems with the liver, kidneys lungs and brain. The sad facts are these issues can cause permanent damage to vital organs.

A hugely destructive effect of long term Heroin use is the addiction itself. The drug creates extreme degrees of dependency and physical tolerance which forces motivation for compulsive abuse and use. Heroin users are no different to other types of drug abusers. They gradually spend an ever-increasing amount of energy and time towards obtaining and using the drug.

After becoming addicted, it can appear an abusers sole purpose in life is seeking and using Heroin. Their brain behaviour patterns change hugely, an addict’s diets decreases leading to malnutrition causing all manner of illnesses.

The higher the doses of Heroin, the more the physical dependence. Due to this dependence, the user’s body adapts to the Heroin. If usage is suddenly reduced the withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

Heroin – Other symptoms include

  • Fidgeting and restlessness
  • Sweating profusely
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Goosebumps on the skin
  • Shakes and Tremors
  • Short temper and irritability
  • A runny nose and chills
  • Involuntary muscle spasm
  • Feelings of nausea
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Embarrassing incontinence
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Breathlessness
  • Pains in the muscles and joints

The process of coming off Heroin is daunting, the craving or the “love affair” as addicts call it may linger for several months. The drug is actually excreted as morphine in the saliva, sweat and breast milk.
Unfortunately, in pregnant women the placenta transfers the drug over to the foetus’s bloodstream. A growing number of infants are now born with severe withdrawal symptoms due to the mother being a heroin user.

Treatment at the Alexander Clinic

The Alexander Clinic was founded in 1998. We have almost 20 years’ experience helping drug addicts through the hard process of heroin detoxification.

Please contact us for more information.