What Are Heroin Ingredients, and How Harmful Are They?

Synthesized from a drug called morphine, heroin isn’t a substance to underestimate. It’s potent enough to kill an inexperienced, unsuspecting opiate user and since it’s highly accessible, its potential damage cannot be ignored.

Morphine is a substance that originates in a natural environment. It’s usually extracted from the Asian poppy plant. If you were to purchase heroin on the street, however, you’d likely receive a black, sticky substance, or you’d be given a brown powder. The version of heroin that resembles black tar is a newer form of the drug.

Millions of Americans have used heroin, and in the coming years millions more will try it. Some individuals will develop a heavy addiction, while others will try the drug once and never use it again.

The Ingredients of Heroin

To be classified as heroin, a substance must have at least two major chemicals. These chemicals are called acetic anhydride and morphine. Without these chemicals, heroin wouldn’t be able to deliver its narcotic effects. However, there are several other ingredients used to make heroin.

Some of these ingredients are more dangerous than others. A typical batch of street heroin can contain several harmful ingredients. Many batches of heroin contain diacetylmorphine, which is a pharmaceutical-grade form of heroin. It can be made with a few different chemicals, some lab equipment and raw opium. The total amount of this ingredient found in a typical batch of heroin varies. The geographical source of the heroin plays a major role in how much diacetylmorphine is included. Currently, heroin sold in America consists of about 35 percent of this ingredient.

Caffeine is another common ingredient in heroin. If caffeine is added before heroin leaves the lab, it produces thumbnail-sized, hard crystals which can be smoked by users. Caffeine is commonly added to the powdered form of heroin. Fortunately, caffeine isn’t very harmful.

Noscapine is frequently included in heroin ingredients and is a byproduct of opium. It’s known to prevent the cough reflex. Today, this ingredient is being examined for use against cancer.

Other heroin ingredients are monoacetylemorphine and mannitol. As a sugar alcohol, mannitol increases the amount of osmotic pressure in the intestines, so it functions as a laxative. Heroin is known for causing serious constipation. Mannitol is usually added to heroin to increase dealer profit because it’s white and powdery.

Acetaminophen is another ingredient in heroin and is included in the prescription medication Percocet, which is a powerful pain reliever. When consumed in large doses, acetaminophen is especially toxic and can cause liver failure. It’s not uncommon for heroin to be cut with acetaminophen.

Papaverine is a poppy alkaloid. Due to how it’s processed, a great deal of heroin contains this ingredient, which isn’t very harmful. In fact, it actually relaxes smooth muscle tissue.

The Dangers of Heroin Ingredients

Street heroin is usually cut with a number of ingredients, which means ingredients are added to increase dealer profit. Some common ingredients added to street heroin are powdered milk, starch, sucrose, talcum powder, chalk, flour and caffeine. Aside from the chalk, many of these ingredients aren’t harmful. However, there’s no way to know what dealers are adding to their products, so the batch of heroin you purchase could contain several dangerous ingredients.

If you or someone you know needs help with an addiction, call our hotline at 800-447-9081.

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