Sunday September 25th 2016

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Heroin

The cost of heroin addiction (INFOGRAPHIC)

The cost of heroin addiction (INFOGRAPHIC)

September 2nd, 2016

On average, a daily heroin habit can cost around $150. But how big is the financial impact of heroin on our society? We break down the facts in this infographic.

1 When does heroin kick in?

When does heroin kick in?

August 25th, 2016

The time it takes for heroin to kick in depends on the way it is taken. Heroin effects are usually felt within seconds after you take it. Find out more about heroin metabolism here.

6 Does heroin show up on drug tests?

Does heroin show up on drug tests?

August 10th, 2016

Yes, heroin can be detected on drug tests. Learn about heroin drug testing, types of tests, detection times, and how heroin test results are verified. More here.

2 A  look at Ibogaine treatment for heroin addiction

A look at Ibogaine treatment for heroin addiction

June 11th, 2016

With an opiate epidemic in our midst, many people know little or have not heard about Ibogaine treatment. Although Ibogaine may not be right for everyone, it offers a solution to many addicts that could save lives.

Is heroin a narcotic?

Is heroin a narcotic?

May 30th, 2016

Yes, heroin is an illicit narcotic drug. More on the legal and medical status of heroin here.

2 When does heroin peak?

When does heroin peak?

April 16th, 2016

Heroin peak concentrations are achieved fairly quickly any way administrated. More here on what heroin does to the body, with a section at the end for your questions.

5 Methadone vs Buprenorphine: Which is better for treating heroin addiction?

Methadone vs Buprenorphine: Which is better for treating heroin addiction?

April 11th, 2016

A comparison of the risks, side effects, legal status, and abuse potential for both methadone and buprenorphine from expert, Derek Simon, PhD. More here.

9 I Wore This Dress To Bury My Son

I Wore This Dress To Bury My Son

February 22nd, 2016

by Trisha Grose and Richie Farrell Last week, I thought about sticking a knife into my neck. The plan was to hold the blade close to my carotid artery, clench my eyes tight and slit my throat from ear to ear. Since Brendan left, I’ve thought of a million ways to kill myself. This morning, […]

Prescription drug abuse can lead to teen heroin addiction

Prescription drug abuse can lead to teen heroin addiction

February 19th, 2016

A very basic review of how opioid pain killers are like heroin…and how teens move from one drug-of-choice to another. Insights for parents, with a list of safety tips and action steps.

1 I'm a Junkie and Love Saved Me

I’m a Junkie and Love Saved Me

February 5th, 2016

Are you fighting a losing battle with heroin? Here’s a story from fellow junkie, Richie Farrell, to inspire hope and courage.

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Heroin

What is heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive drug derived from morphine, which in turn is derived from raw opium (the dried sap of opium poppy). In its pure form, heroin appears as a white powder with a bitter taste. However, heroin sold in streets can appear as off-white to brown powder, or as black sticky goo. Heroin has a chemical formula C21H23NO5 but is also known by names such as smack, H, skag, junk, brown sugar, horse, and black tar. Almost all heroin sold today are made illegally in clandestine laboratories.

To make heroin, dried opium sap pieces are first boiled in water with lime to precipitate morphine at the top. This morphine is then drawn off, reheated with ammonia and filtered and boiled again. This process yields heroin that appears as a brown paste.

In the medical sense, heroin is called diamorphine or diacetylmorphine. Heroin is taken into the body via injection (most common, with almost instant effects), smoking and snorting, and less commonly, by oral consumption. Heroin is highly addictive and is therefore illegal in many countries. When people take it even for a short period of time, a strong need for heroin is quickly developed and long term heroin addiction treatment is needed. But what makes heroin so addictive? And why it is illegal in many places?

Heroin effects

Heroin is a strong opioid analgesic, like morphine. Heroin is considered a potent depressant because it reduces sensation of pain (anesthesia) and also slows breathing, lowers the heartbeat and blood pressure. What happens for heroin to take effect on the body?

When heroin is abused, it is transformed into morphine and goes straight to the brain in a very short span of time. However, unlike morphine, heroin has a markedly addictive effect after first few uses. Why? Because heroin effects include euphoria, an intense sense of well being.

In fact, heroin users feel a sense of relaxation plus intense acute euphoria (termed a ‘rush’) soon after administration of the drug. This rush may also be accompanied by flushing of skin, dry mouth with nausea, vomiting and severe itching. This rush lasts only for a short time, after which then it quickly subsides. To feel high again, the user must again take heroin, sometimes at a larger dose to overcome tolerance.

Another effect of heroin use is increased tolerance. Generally, heroin use causes tolerance quickly, which means you need to increase successive doses taken just to feel the same effect. Among habit-forming drugs, heroin is one of the most addictive. First time users of heroin can easily get addicted to it in a short period of time.

Heroin overdose

Heroin overdose is a medical emergency which happens when large amounts of heroin are suddenly introduced in the body. Injecting heroin makes you most susceptible to overdose because this method of delivery travels to and crosses the blood-brain barrier almost instantly. In the event of overdose, heroin sends the nervous system into delirium, disorientation and coma.

A person experiencing heroin overdose may manifest symptoms such as:

  • bluish fingernails
  • coma
  • constipation
  • discolored tongue
  • disorientation and delirium
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • pinpoint pupils
  • shallow or no breathing, or slow and difficult breathing
  • snoring
  • weak pulse, and low blood pressure

Heroin overdose is always a potential threat to life, and therefore must be addressed as soon as possible. When heroin overdose is suspected, you should call your local emergency phone hotline or national poison control center.

A person who you suspect is experiencing heroin overdose must be kept constantly awake, or must be awakened from sleep. Nothing should be put into their mouth due to risk of choking. If seizures occur, do not restrain the victim; move things away to prevent injury. Always stay with the victim until medical help arrives.

For more info on heroin’s addictive properties and treatment, see:

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