Heroin is the strongest drug belonging to the opiate family (amongst opium, codeine and morphine) and is known to be the most rapidly acting drug on the market with the highest percentage of users being addicted to it. Heroin is a semi-synthetic occurring drug being derived from opium which is extracted from the seed pod of poppy species. Heroine was firstly produced in Middle- and Southeast Asia, but can also be found in South American countries. After the juice is extracted from the poppy plant and turned into opium, it is used further on to create morphine, the legal painkiller. However, morphine is also often used to create cocaine.
Opiates affect the brain’s receptors directly, having an impact on the parts of the brain that are related to pain and emotions. Opiates create endorphins, relieving the organism from pain by acting as short-term pain killers. Naturally, endorphin is relieved during activities such as running, spending time outdoors, and experiencing orgasm, fear or stress.
Recently, heroin has become a drug of choice in dance clubs and in the gay circles, being used to reduce the withdrawal effects of other drugs, such as ecstasy or cocaine. There is an untrue perception of heroin addiction amongst users: they believe that unless injected, the drug does not cause addiction. This is the reason why many heroin users prefer to smoke or snort the substance. However, heroin is highly addictive regardless the way it is ingested. Unlike other drugs, heroine has no medical use and if caught under possession or supplying, one can face most severe legal consequences.
Due to the fact that the price of heroin has decreased during the past few years, the drug is now accessible to a wider age category, even to young children. Adults and elderly people are frequent substance users as well.
Based on its purity, heroin comes in different colours: its purest form is as white powder with a rather bitter taste, the lowest quality having a dark brown colour (due to the manufacturing process). The brown heroin is most of the times insoluble in water and needs to be dissolved in acid substances, such as lemon juice. Another type of heroin is black tar and looks quite similar to hashish. Like the name suggest, the substance’s colour is dark brown-black, also due to the way it was processed. Being of stronger nature, black tar is often diluted and dissolved before being used (mostly injected). There are two ways to inject heroin: intravenously or intramuscularly. After the heroin is heated in a little water, the user that injected it will feel within 10 minutes or less a deep sense of relaxation and euphoria. When heroin is shot directly into the vein, the drug becomes effective immediately (in 8-9 seconds). Heroin addicts need to inject the substance few times per day in order to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal.
Nowadays, a larger number of people prefer smoking and snorting heroin rather than injecting it (mainly due to the infectious diseases associated with drug infusion). This habit is known as ‘chasing the dragon’ and it can be highly dangerous because heroin overdose poses a significant threat. Even in the media, heroin abuse has been presented as a highly risking habit and understanding what consequences it can have, (both legally and personally) matters.