Heroin is a recreational drug known as an opioid analgesic, and is one of the stronger and more addictive types of recreational drugs found on the streets today. When it comes to heroin, there are a range of different ways in which the user can administer the drug to the body. The following will provide an in-depth look at heroin, including how it’s made, the varying methods of administration for use and the dangers associated with injecting heroin when compared to other routes of administration.
How Heroin Is Made
Historically, heroin has been made from what’s known as the opium poppy. These days, however, heroin is typically derived from morphine, which is taken directly from the poppy flower itself. These flowers are found in many different countries, including Pakistan and other nations in Southeast Asia along with South America. The leading exporter of heroin throughout the world is Afghanistan, which accounts for well over 80 percent of the world’s supply.
Once the poppy has begun to ripen, the pod is cut and a white substance begins to spill from it. This substance eventually hardens into a sticky resin that’s made into morphine, which can be pressed into bricks and more readily smuggled. When the morphine arrives at its destination, a chemical compound known as acetic anhydride is introduced to the substance to turn it into heroin. Once this has been completed, the drug goes through a purification process before being sold to dealers and users.
The Routes of Administration for Heroin Use
Heroin can be used in a large variety of ways. While people might believe that each method of administration of the drug would be equal in its effects, certain methods of administration can actually strengthen the dosage of the drug to create much more powerful and dangerous side effects. In general, the drug can be injected, snorted and smoked. Each method of administration provides different effects, primarily because it enters the system in different locations. Injection commonly takes place within a muscle or vein, but the substance can also be smoked in a pipe or mixed in a standard cigarette. Snorting the drug takes it through the nasal passageways and into the brain.
When the drug is in powder form, it can be snorted. The length of time before the effects take place also depends on how the drug is administered. If injected, the high will begin in just under 10 seconds, while smoking the substance will lead to a 10 to 15 minute period before the high occurs. The most common method of heroin administration has always been by injection, though smoking and snorting methods have become more popular as of late among young people.
The Dangers of Injecting Heroin
Injecting heroin is considered to be much more dangerous than its counterparts of smoking and snorting, primarily because using in this manner produces the fastest rate of administration. In fact, its effects start in just seven to eight seconds after injection. The drug is in the system for a much shorter period of time than with other routes of administration.
When injected, the full dosage of the drug enters into the bloodstream and is carried to the brain in a matter of seconds, creating a high that’s much more intense than that caused by smoking or snorting – though both of these methods are still highly dangerous and addictive. Many users who’ve become addicted to heroin end up changing from smoking or snorting to injection altogether. A growing dependence on the drug often leaves users requiring injection to experience a high. It’s important to note that individuals can easily overdose when injecting the drug.
However, the dangers of injection don’t simply rest at the intensity of the high. There are a wide range of dangers with injection that aren’t found with any other methods of administration. For instance, when smoked or snorted, the drug is taken through certain filtering mechanisms throughout the body that help to reduce not only the potency of the drug, but also bacteria and viruses that can be found within the substance. Injecting heroin into the bloodstream passes all of these mechanisms and goes straight to the brain, further increasing the chances of infection or other harmful health issues. The very act of injection carries its own set of dangers, including damaged skin, collapsed veins, ulceration and abscesses from repeat injections into the same areas.
When attempting to locate a vein after using too many of the more accessible areas, users often resort to injecting the drug into veins within fingers and toes and within the femoral vein around the groin. All of these areas are dangerous, as there’s an increased risk of hitting arteries or nerves, which can lead to severe and adverse effects on a person’s health. The femoral vein in the groin area is especially close to the femoral nerve and artery, making it very difficult to discern between the three for someone injecting heroin. There’s also the added danger of contracting HIV or hepatitis due to needle sharing – communicable diseases are prevalent among heroin users. While smoking and snorting are dangerous in their own ways, it’s clear that injecting heroin is one of the more dangerous things a person can do.
If you or someone you know is currently abusing or addicted to heroin, don’t hesitate to call the drug abuse hotline at 800-447-9081 right away!