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Heroin

Heroin (like opium and morphine) is made from the resin of poppy plants that predominantly grow in South America and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asia. Milky, sap-like opium is first removed from the pod of the poppy flower and then refined to make morphine. The morphine is refined further into different forms of heroin.

Heroin is most often sold as a white, pink, or brownish powder that has been “cut.” “Cut” means something was used to dilute the heroin, namely sugar, powdered milk, quinine caffeine or other substances. Street heroin is dangerously sometimes “cut” with strychnine or other poisons. The various additives that have been “cut” into the heroin often do not fully dissolve, and when the are injected into the body, can clog the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, kidneys or brain leading to infection or destruction of vital organs.

Heroin bought on the street carries an additional risk: the user never knows the actual strength of the heroin they are buying. Because of this, users are constantly at risk of an overdose.

Street names for heroin include:

Big H

Brown Sugar

H

Hell Dust

Horse

Junk

Nose Drops

Skag

Smack

Thunder

source: drugfreeworld.org

whatisheroinWhat Exactly is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive, illegal drug processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed-pod of poppy plants that predominantly grow in South America and, to a lesser extent, from Southeast Asia. In its purest form, heroin is a fine white powder. It most often sold as a white, pink, or brownish powder that has been “cut.” “Cut” means something was used to dilute the heroin, namely sugar, powdered milk, quinine caffeine or other substances. Street heroin is dangerously sometimes “cut” with strychnine or other poisons.

The various additives that have been “cut” into the heroin often do not fully dissolve, and when the are injected into the body, can clog the blood vessels that lead to the lungs, kidneys or brain leading to infection or destruction of vital organs.

Heroin bought on the street carries an additional risk: the user never knows the actual strength of the heroin they are buying. Because of this, users are constantly at risk of an overdose.

Street names for heroin include:

  • Big H
  • Brown Sugar
  • H
  • Hell Dust
  • Horse
  • Junk
  • Nose Drops
  • Skag
  • Smack
  • Thunder

 

Today’s Heroin

The face of today’s heroin users may not be what many of us think of. Most of us are likely to think of heroin addicts or users and criminals or someone who lurks in back alleys. Today’s heroin users, however, are our friends and neighbors, our co-workers and church congregation members.

Sadly, drug use became more prevalent among children in the last few decades. Some children smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol when still very young. Today children are exposed to and participating in these behaviors more than ever. By the time kids graduate from high school, nearly 40% of all teens will have tried marijuana. Some later move on to more addictive substances.

Although it cannot be assumed that all children who smoke marijuana today will become heroin addicts tomorrow, the danger exists. And long-term studies of high school students (drugfreeworld.org) show that few teens use other drugs without first having tried marijuana. With the increase use of marijuana due to legalization, this is worrisome. Once a person can no longer get the initial “rush” they seek from something like marijuana, they may begin to increase drug consumption or to look for something stronger.

Sadly, the 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that more than 9.5% of youths aged 12 to 17 in the US were current illegal drug users. Further, in 2008, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported that daily marijuana use among college students had doubled, and use of cocaine and heroin was on the rise as well. Along with that, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, estimated that 16 million people worldwide used opiates—opium, morphine, heroin and synthetic opiates.

Today’s heroin user could be 12 years old, play video games and enjoy the music of his generation. He could appear smart, stylish and bear none of the common traces of heroin use, such as needle marks on his arm. Because heroin is available in various forms that are easier to consume (such as pills) and more affordable forms as well, it is more tempting than ever. It used to be that heroin was injected using needles but now young people (and older people as well) who may have thought twice about injecting themselves with a drug via a needle may not hesitate to consume heroin in easier ways that seem less risky. Teaching young people about the dangers of heroin and public awareness about heroin addiction prevention is key is saving many people from a lifetime of sorrow, health issues, and destruction.

 

Is Carfentanil to Blame for Record High Heroin Overdoses?

In Cincinnati, a terrifying heroin overdose crisis is underway. In a city where 4 overdoses a day are typical, last Tuesday and Wednesday saw 78 overdoses and there were an estimated 174 overdose cases in local emergency rooms in less than 1 week.

Close by, New Jersey saw 29 heroin overdoses between Tuesday and Thursday in Camden on free samples of heroin marketed with a Batman stamp, in Indiana, 13 people overdosed Tuesday in Jennings County, about 60 miles north of Louisville and in Kentucky, 12 people overdosed on heroin Wednesday in Montgomery County, about 100 miles east of Louisville.

Law enforcement and medical personnel believe that the potent heroin is from the same source and they are working overtime to find the dealer. Although there is speculation that fentanyl has been mixed with the heroin, some are beginning to think the mega-potent, animal opioid, carfentanil is to blame.

Carfentanil, an analgesic for large animals including elephants, was discovered in July in the region’s heroin stream in Akron and Columbus. Unfortunately, hospitals in the region are not equipped to test blood for the animal opioid, which is rare and only in July surfaced in greater Cincinnati’s street heroin.

“The federal Drug Enforcement Administration has been on alert for carfentanil since its appearance in U.S. and at the Canadian border, said Melvin Patterson, a DEA spokesman in Washington. “Officials have little doubt that the carfentanil that’s showing up in street drugs is from overseas, just as fentanyl is manufactured and brought across the U.S. borders. It’s such a restricted drug there’s only a handful of places in the United States that can have it,” he said.

The DEA is currently working with Chinese counterparts who want to stop the illegal shipments. Patterson indicated that carfentanil has been manufactured in China, delivered to Mexico, shipped to Canada and then to Ohio. Further, there also have been reports of carfentanil shipping directly to Canada, and being intercepted by Mexican drug organizations. No matter how carfentanil is coming into the U.S., preventative measures to stop its import all together are crucial.

Source: msn.com

 

RiseInHeroinOverdoseRise in Heroin overdoses in the US

Recently, much attention has been focused on the rise in heroin related deaths in the United States. A US Federal Health report published this past fall indicates that heroin overdoses doubled from 2010 to 2012. This reports contained data collected from 28 states, accounting for 56% of the US population. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the large increase in heroin-related deaths is directly tied to the epidemic of narcotic painkiller abuse.

Dr. Len Paulozzi, the study’s co-author, said that, “There is a growing population of people who are using narcotics, whether the prescription variety or heroin.” He further indicates that the overprescribing for the past 20 years of painkillers such as Oxycotin and Vcodin is responsible for the increase in heroin use and overdoses.

Steven Reinberg wrote in cbsnews.com Healthy Day that, “Previous research showed that from 2009 to 2012, there was a 74 percent increase in the number of people aged 12 and older.”

This and other frightening facts about the increase of heroin use are showing up in communities and cities all over the US. The CDC report indicates that the worst affected areas are in the Northwest and the Southern parts of the US, but that the entire country is affected.

For instance, just last week, AL.com’s Carol Robinson reported that, “Heroin deaths in Jefferson County jumped about 140 percent in 2014 in what authorities say is a steadily-growing epidemic not likely to end anytime soon. There were 123 confirmed heroin deaths countywide as of Dec. 29, according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. There are at least 18 more suspected heroin deaths, including several this week. Investigators are awaiting toxicology test results to confirm the cause in those cases but all evidence points to heroin.”

Robinson further reported that, “The issue isn’t unique to Jefferson County. Both Shelby and Tuscaloosa counties have seen spikes as well, as have communities nationwide. “

“When Birmingham police go out into these areas where there is high violent crime, they’re falling all over heroin,” U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said earlier this year… It is also in Gardendale, Fultondale, Vestavia, Mountain Brook, Hoover and at the University of Alabama.” The report further indicates deaths in many other areas of Alabama as well.

Further, AL.com reports that, “Over the past three years, the average age of heroin-related deaths in Jefferson County was 36. Of the victims, 88 percent were white.”

Another interesting point to come out of the research by Paulozzi and his colleagues is that deaths from heroin overdose also vary by age. He indicates that the research shows that deaths from heroin overdose have climbed 120 percent among those 45 to 54 and about 109 percent among those 25 to 34.

Solving this rising epidemic of heroin overdose begins with stopping the addiction to narcotic painkillers through the reducing the prescriptions to such drugs. For those already struggling with addiction, Paulozzi said that increased availability to heroin addiction treatment is key. If those struggling with addiction to heroin don’t receive help, their risks of ending up in a fatal overdose climb significantly.

Most often, a heroin abuser previously abused some type of prescription drugs. At some point prescription drugs become harder to get, are more expensive and provide less of a high. Heroin becomes an easy alternative because it is cheaper, easy to obtain and provides an acceptable or better high. Because the demand for heroin has increased, the price has been driven down by the competition.

Availability, purity and the pursuit of a higher high are also to blame for the increase in the numbers of overdoses.

Heroin is entering into rural and non-urban areas. Many of these areas are where the huge increases of heroin overdoses are occurring. It is vital that there is treatment and recovery help in every area for those addicted to heroin to stop the rise in fatality associated with this deadly drug.

Jefferson County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Randy Christian said, “Heroin is extremely addictive and addicts struggle with rehab efforts, relapsing frequently. Abusers don’t know the chemical make-up or purity of what they’re injecting or snorting and sadly the increasing outcome of their addiction is overdose, and more frequently than ever, death.”

Further, prevention is key in stopping the spread of heroin addiction. In order to prevent the increase in addiction, the medical community must prescribe much more carefully and cautiously. Sadly, most believe that the problems associated with heroin will only rise as it becomes more available and turf wars begin over the demand for the drug.

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