11 Apr Heroin Facts

Heroin is derived from the Asian poppy seed that produces morphine. It comes in two forms, as a brown or white powder and as a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. It belongs to the opioid drug category, a group which is highly potent and highly addictive. Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked, though injection is the quickest way to produce an effect.

Heroin stimulates opioid receptors in the body which alleviate pain and cause a person to experience pleasure. Opioid receptors are found throughout the body, with the highest concentration in the brain stem. People who abuse heroin build up a tolerance to the drug, which causes them to continually increase their dosage over time. Since heroin is so habit forming, this tolerance only adds to the addiction problem.

Some common side effects associated with heroin are clouded thinking and dry mouth. People who abuse heroin often become irrational which leads to malnutrition and emotional unwellness. Heroin also depresses the respiratory system which can cause pneumonia, a cessation of breathing, and death. Some of the harmful substances found in heroin build up in the blood vessels and restrict the flow of blood. This leads to internal organ damage that is often permanent.

Medical grade opiates, such as morphine, are derived from the same source as heroin and they can serve their purpose as pain relievers when carefully monitored by a physician. Some medications, like suboxone, have been developed to counteract the effects of drugs like morphine or heroin and can assist in recovering from heroin addiction. These medications can ease withdrawal symptoms and make detox less painful. Having access to these medications and to other forms of therapy and counseling make it possible for those suffering from heroin addiction to break their dependency if they seek out help at a drug rehabilitation facility.

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