Heroin is an opiate drug which is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin commonly appears as a white or brownish colored powder or as a dark colored sticky compound, referred to as “black tar heroin.”
Heroin penetrates into the brain, where it is changed into morphine and binds to receptors referred to as opioid receptors. These receptors can be found in numerous regions of the brain as well as in the body, particularly those active in the perception of pain and in reward. Opioid receptors are also found in the brain stem, which is vital for automatic processes crucial for life, for example breathing (respiration), blood pressure levels, and also arousal.
A typical approach to using heroin is by insufflation (snorting), where a user crushes the heroin into a fine powder after which forcefully inhales it (oftentimes using a straw or a rolled up banknote, just as with cocaine) in to the nose where heroin is absorbed throughout the soft tissue within the mucous membrane of the sinus cavity and directly into the bloodstream.
This technique of administration redirects first pass metabolism, with a quicker onset far better bioavailability than oral administration, though the duration of action is reduced. This method is oftentimes desirable to users who don’t wish to prepare and administer heroin for injection or smoking, but still experience a quick onset with a rush.
A number of studies have suggested an increase in heroin use within the past few years, which has been attributed to younger people that are smoking or snorting heroin instead of injecting it. The purity of heroin has risen to a degree that makes smoking and sniffing practical. The improved purity as well as concern about AIDS could be resulting in the shift from injecting to smoking as well as snorting amongst heroin users.
The majority of users inject heroin, however it’s becoming increasing common to find users snorting or smoking heroin because of the false impression that it’s less dangerous. The effects of heroin begin quickly, 7-8 seconds for intravenous use, 5-8 minutes for intramuscular use, and 10-15 minutes for other methods and wear off in a few hours.
- Irreversible effects: Heroin abuse is linked to significant health problems, which include fatal heroin overdose, spontaneous abortion, collapsed veins, and infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and also hepatitis.
- Long-term effects: Long-term effects of heroin include things like collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, cellulitis, and liver illness. Pulmonary complications, including numerous kinds of pneumonia, can originate from the poor medical condition of the abuser, in addition to heroin’s depressing effects on respiration.
- Infection: Independent of the effects of the drug itself, street heroin can have additives which don’t readily dissolve and end in clogging the blood vessels which lead to the respiratory system, liver, renal system, or brain. This may result in infection or even death of small patches of cells in vital organs.