- 1 What is heroin?
- 2 How heroin works
- 3 types of heroin
- 4 Short-term effects of heroin use
- 5 side effects
- 6 Long-term effects of heroin use
What is heroin?
The heroin is the name for a modified version of morphine, which is an addictive and illegal opioid drug. It is extracted from a plant called "opium poppy", from which a resin called "opium bread" is extracted, which is the active substance. It is also a semi-synthetic opioid.
It is presented as a white, odorless, very fine powder, although its appearance may vary depending on the purification processes to which it has been subjected. The main route of consumption is intravenous, although it can also be snorted or smoked.
How heroin works
It acts as a depressant of Central Nervous System (CNS), it's relaxing. At first it produces a feeling of intense pleasure ("flash") and euphoria, followed by apathy and drowsiness. After a period of consumption, the feeling is of well-being, of being in a dream away from everything.
The individual who takes it develops tolerance and dependence very quickly, since it has a high addictive power.
Types of heroin
- Brown heroine: is a type of heroin that comes from Africa. It must be heated before dissolving and it is customary to use a blade for that, the dose is put on top and heated with a lighter below the blade. It dissolves in citric acid (lemon juice). Its use is very cumbersome and also citric acid can burn the arteries. Citrus acid powder is currently supplied to heroin addicts, so that its use is more hygienic.
- White heroine: It is a type of heroin that is easier to dissolve, since it is made with distilled water or other liquids. It is usually dissolved in a bottle cap and loaded with a peeled cigarette filter so that the lumps of the dilution do not pass into the syringe. This filter is saved by heroin addicts because after 8 or 9 shots they can extract the drug that has been left and have an extra dose.
Short-term effects of heroin use
The addictive nature of this substance is partly due to its ability to create intense pleasurable sensations. Heroin manages to take the consumer to a state of great well-being by binding to opioid receptors in the body. Once the chemical interaction has taken place, the nerve cells affected they release a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This sense of reward that is generated can reactivate and subsequently reinforce, a growing addiction, since the user continuously seeks to repeat the feeling of pleasure and therefore the consumption of heroin.
The short-term effects are variable depending on the dose and the route of administration, but the first effect to appear is that of analgesia or immediate pain relief, as well as depression of the central nervous system that produces the following:
- Intense feelings of euphoria.
- Feeling hot ("fever").
- Feeling of heaviness in the extremities.
- Decreased sensitivity to pain.
Pleasant sensations related to "fever" will only be felt for a few minutes, but well-being and sedation persist for several hours. The duration of the effects will depend on the purity, the dose and the route of administrationFor example, if the drug is inhaled, smoked or injected. During the most intense effects of heroin, the user may encounter periods of wakefulness and sleep, called "headers."
The effects of heroin decrease with continued use, since the user becomes increasingly tolerant of the drug. For this reason, increasing amounts are needed to achieve the same effect, which can easily lead to overdose.
Over time, the short-term pleasurable effects of heroin are eclipsed by the numerous unwanted side effects of the substance. Frequently, this is because the body adapts to the heroin in the system and takes steps to counteract the effects. Side effects of heroin use include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth.
- Skin itch.
- Light sensitivity.
- Body temperature below normal.
- Slow breathing
- Decreased heart rate
- Cyanotic (bluish) skin on the hands, feet, lips, etc.
The risk of death from overdose is an important risk in people who consume heroin, but the dosage is impossible to measure due to the difference in purity depending on how they find it on the black market at that time.
Many of the complications and side effects of heroin are aggravated by the use of other substances, especially body depressants such as alcohol or sedatives. The combined effects can lead to dangerously slow breathing, lack of oxygen in the brain, heart problems, coma and death.
Long-term effects of heroin use
There is a wide range of long-term effects of heroin use. People who consume heroin for long periods of time may experience:
- Damaged teeth and inflammation of the gums.
- Excoriations of the skin by scratching.
- Severe constipation
- Weakness of the immune system.
- Lack of appetite and malnutrition.
- Trouble sleeping
- Decreased sexual function.
Some of the biggest risks of long-term heroin use are liver or kidney problems from damage or infectious diseases. The brain can also be negatively affected due to lack of oxygen.
People who consume heroin frequently should also face problems with abscesses, bacterial infections and heart valve infections. Pregnant women who use heroin are at risk of miscarriage, and put their children at risk of communicable diseases, in addition to drug addiction from birth.