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What Is Heroin
Heroin is one of a group of drugs which are derived from the Opium Poppy which are collectively know as Opiates. Other examples are Codeine and Morphine, which are commercially produced as painkillers.
Heroin is derived from Morphine which is a white powder in it pure form, on the street it is more of a brown coloured powder, due to the additives added. It has been know for powdered milk, talc, curry powder, washing powder and other substances to be mixed with pure Heroin to increase the volume.
Synthetic (man made) opiates are called Opioids these are also produced as painkillers such as Pethidine, Methadone and Diconal.
How Is Heroin Taken
A drug addict will often start taking Heroin by smoking the drug this is commonly called “Tooting”. The user will place the Heroin onto silver foil and warm it up from underneath with a lighter or candle. As the Heroin melts it turns into a ball of fluid, which will roll along the silver foil, leaving a trail of black residue (lines on the silver foil, see picture left). Once it gets to this stage it gives off fumes which are inhaled using a ball point pen with the centre removed or a silver foil rolled up into a tube, or a similar implement. After a short period of use addicts will find themselves doing more and more lines in a day due to more of the drug being required to have the same effect. Once this starts happening and more drugs are required the addicts find themselves spending more and more money. Often the next step is to start injecting as this will hit the spot much faster and less of the drug is required.
Injecting Heroin is like a ritual for the user. Once the Heroin is purchased the preparation starts. Firstly everything will be put out on display and placed in order. The kit includes, Heroin, syringe with needle, spoon, lighter or candle, cigarette filter, belt, citric acid and water. The Heroin is put onto the spoon with citric acid, the right amount of water will then be mixed with the Heroin and citric acid, (the citric acid is used to breakdown the Heroin so it can be injected). At the same time the spoon is held over the heat source so all the three substances are mixed together. Once mixed, a cigarette filter will be placed onto the spoon, the solution will then be drawn up the syringe through the filter, this is to filter out any impurities. It is now ready to be injected into a vein usually in the arm. The belt or similar implement such as a shoe lace is tied tightly around the arm to stop the blood flow, this will cause the veins to stand out for easier injection. After long periods of use the veins will become damaged and other areas of the body are used for injecting into. Other places used are in the groin area, behind the knees or in serious cases in the neck. It has been know for addicts veins to collapse.
Effects Of Heroin
Short term effects of Heroin:
- Sedation / Drowsiness (known as gouching)
- Euphoria (the feeling of well being)
- Reduced Anxiety
- No feeling of pain (analgesia)
- AIDS due to sharing needles
- Skin infection from injecting
- Collapsed veins due to injecting
- Poisoning due to additives added to the drugs by dealers
- Liver damage
- Rotten teeth due to “tooting”
Addicts usually don’t intend to overdose. The reasons for overdosing are few but can be very serious and has in the past resulted in death.
If an addict has been restricted from taking the drug for a long period of time, for example, due to imprisonment. The addict could overdose if they were to use the same amount of the drug they were taking before they had the long spell of not using.
Another reason for overdosing is due to the strength of Heroin. Some dealers will mix other substances with the Heroin making it weaker. If a pure bag of Heroin was taken, this could amount to a serious overdose.
What To Look For
- Sleep pattern will change dramatically (usually lack of sleep during the night)
- Staying in the bedroom away from others who don’t use the drug
- Not mixing with others
- Not going out with usual friends to the pub etc.
- Silver foil will start to disappear
- Lack of money
- Hyper and more energy than usual
- Personal items (stereo’s, games machines, computers etc.) get sold to feed the addiction
- Money starts to disappear
- Dramatic weight loss
- Looking pale and gaunt in the face (no colour)
- Eye pupils very small, with little reaction
- Don’t keep personal hygiene up to standard
- Loss of interest in cooked meals / depressed appetite
- Eating lots of sweet foods like chocolate bars and yoghurts
- Lies (a drug addict will tell blatant lies to try and cover his tracks)
- In trouble with the law
Parents often mistake the effects of Heroin use with alcohol use
(but no smell of alcohol would be present)
Why Is Heroin Addictive
It’s not just Heroin that is addictive, other Opiates are just as addictive. After a short period of use taking Heroin or other Opiates, it changes the way the nerve cells in the brain work. These cells rely on the drugs for them to function and end up being dependent on it. When a regular user stops taking the drug the nerve cells become very active and start craving for the drug, which causes withdrawal symptoms, which is commonly known as COLD TURKEY.
What Is COLD TURKEY:- Click Here To Find Out
There is no magical cure for an addict to stop the habit.
Even if addicts do undergo heroin addiction treatment in Illinois or anywhere else, there will always be the risk of a relapse if they don’t take the proper measures.
Unfortunately some people say an addict will come off Heroin once they are ready, this could be after 12 years or more. A couple of common treatments are Methadone & Naltrexone.
This is a commonly used method to stop the use of Heroin, it is usually in a liquid form and is taken orally. Unfortunately Methadone is just as addictive as Heroin. Addicts are weaned off over a matter of months, then in some cases offered Naltrexone whilst getting counselling.
This is a blocker and stops any effect Heroin has on the user. Before Naltrexone is administered the user must be clear of Opiates and Opioids for at least 7 – 10 days. A urine test is normally carried out to ensure the body is clean. The addict must be under supervision for at least an hour to ensure there are no side effects. Naltrexone is taken in tablet form daily, also counselling would be given to get the addict back into society. Most establishments offering the above treatment would do random drugs test on known addicts.
This is done under a local anaesthetic and involves an implant of Naltrexone, which is released into the body slowly.
Cold turkey is a common name for a drug addict who is going through the withdrawal symptoms to try and kick the addiction, also know as detoxification or detox. This usually occurs between 8 and 24 hours after the last intake of the drug. There are a lot of symptoms as the body starts to get all it’s feelings back, after the long term drug abuse. Most addicts will have similar symptoms, such as diarrhoea, aches and pains, cramps in the stomach, vomiting, sweats and cold chills. The person who is having the withdrawal symptoms may feel that they are dying (and in a lot of cases go straight back on Heroin after a couple of days). Those who manage to carry on will have the symptoms for between 4 to 8 days. Unfortunately still not much help is available at this stage the only thing to do is take painkillers and diarrhoea tablets which may help a little.
After the cold turkey stage the battle is still on. This is just the start of the recovery period. The next step is to get the brain sorted out, as the craving is still there and the addict still wants their fix. At this stage counselling and blockers are usually needed to help the addict through the everyday tasks they have to contend with. The main thing to try and do is keep the addict occupied. Addicts at this stage are often unemployed, possibly homeless with nothing to do.
Get them to seek employment, there is also a lot of college courses for young and old, anything will do to keep their brains occupied. Try and encourage them to take up some form of hobby or other interests. One of the worst things they can do is hang around with other users as they will go straight back into using again, and the whole process starts from the beginning.