Heroin: Therapeutic use, Treatment. Heroin rehab.
Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 4:06 pm
Official names: Heroin (diacetylmorphine)
Street names: H, horse, boy, smack, stuff, mud, dope, tar, black tar, dragon fire, king kong, cat woman, hat man, TNT, white skull, body bag, creeper, shake, treat, cap, spoon, slag, dragon, mac, heron, chiva, china white, monkey, magic, lady, tammy, manteca, diesel, turkey
Drug classifications: Schedule I, narcotic
BUPRENORPHINE: (Also known as Temgesic and Subutex.) New substances that have proven to reduce cravings associated with heroin withdrawal. May also be helpful in treating cocaine addiction.
ENDORPHINS: Naturally produced chemicals in the brain that create feelings of happiness, euphoria, serenity and fearlessness.
LAAM (LEVO-ALPHA-ACETYLMETHADOL): Like methadone, LAAM is a synthetic opiate used to treat heroin addiction, blunting withdrawal for up to 72 hours.
MDMA (3,4-M ETHYLENEDIOXYM ETH AM PH ETAMINE): Known as ecstasy, E, and X, MDMA is the most popular of the “club drugs,” a synthetic stimulant with mild hallucinogenic properties.
METHADONE (METHADONE HYDROCHLORIDE): Like LAAM, a synthetic opiate used to treat heroin addiction. Methadone is non-intoxicating and blunts symptoms of withdrawal.
NALOXONE: A short-acting narcotic antagonist that binds to opiate receptors and blocks them. Used to treat opiate overdose.
NALTREXONE: A long-lasting narcotic antagonist that blocks opiate receptors. Used to treat heroin addiction.
OPIOID: A drug, hormone, or other chemical substance having sedative or narcotic effects similar to those containing opium or its derivatives; a natural brain opiate.
SPEEDBALL: Also called “dynamite” or “whiz-bang,” a speedball is a combination of cocaine or methampetamine (stimulants) and heroin (a depressant). This combination increases the chances of serious adverse reactions and can be more toxic than either drug alone.
According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, worldwide production of opium has doubled since the mid-1980s. The result has been easier and cheaper access to the drug and worsening social problems, such as crime, associated with its abuse. Derived from opium, heroin is a highly addictive drug, and its use is a serious and growing problem. Rising purity levels and lower prices have fueled heroin’s popularity.
The widely held misconception that snorting or smoking it is “less addictive” than intravenous injection lures new young users. Any ingestion of heroin promotes tolerance and drug cravings that can, and frequently do, lead to addiction. Teens and young adults across the country are learning the hard way that heroin addiction can come just as easily in a pipe as a needle.
Opium production occurs in three source regions — Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, and Latin America. While an undetermined amount of the opium is consumed in the producing regions, a significant amount of the drug is converted to heroin and sent to its major markets in Europe and North America.
Origin and production
Heroin is a narcotic derived from the opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum). Opium poppy is grown primarily by destitute farmers in what is known as the Golden Crescent in Southwest Asia (encompassing Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) and the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam). In the Americas, Columbia and Mexico are chief producers.
The poppy plant produces raw opium. Crude refineries modify the opium into a brown paste that is molded and dried into bricks. More sophisticated laboratories are found in Bangkok, Karachi, and Hong Kong. These labs change opium into what is known as number three heroin, a smokeable form. Purification of heroin to the “injectable” fourth stage (number four heroin) involves a volatile chemical combination that can result in catastrophic explosions.
The history of opium usage stretches back to 3400 B. c, where it was first cultivated in lower Mesopotamia. The Sumerians called the poppy Hul Gil or the “joy plant.” The art of poppy cultivation spread from the Sumerians to the Assyrians, and from the Assyrians to the Babylonians and Egyptians.
The Egyptians applied proven agricultural methods to growing opium poppies, and the trade flourished throughout the ancient world. For the next 3,000 years, opium was an important trade item among civilizations clustered around the Mediterranean. Prized by merchants and traders, opium would find its way into markets in Greece, Carthage, India, Persia, and China.
As Europe began its slow emergence from the Dark Ages in the sixteenth century, opium began to reappear in medical journals on the continent. A century later, an English apothecary named Thomas Sydenham introduced “Sydenham’s Laudanum,” pills made from opium, sherry, and herbs. They were popular remedies for a variety of ills.
Portugese traders with routes to the East China Sea smoked opium with tobacco in long-stemmed pipes. They reintroduced the practice to the Chinese who had frowned on its use. The British East India Company assumed control of poppy-producing fields in India and dominated the opium trade. By the late 1700s, the East India Company had established a monopoly on its import into China, Europe, and the United States.
Opium had long been used by the Chinese to stop diarrhea, but in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, its recreational use exploded. In 1800, the Imperial government of Kia King banned its import and trade completely, but could not effectively enforce the ban. Opium dens flourished in the port cities and spread inward.
With its officials routinely bribed, China quickly became a haven for corruption, lawlessness, and addiction. In desperation, the imperial government made opium illegal in 1836 and took action against Chinese merchants and Western traders who continued to traffic in the drug. This and other trade disputes with the British led to the first of two Opium Wars.
By the time opium was banned by the U.S. Congress in 1905, the abuse of black market heroin had already taken hold. In 1910, Britain signed an agreement with China to dismantle the opium trade. But the profits made from its cultivation, manufacture, and sale were so enormous that no serious interruption would be felt until World War II closed supply routes throughout Asia. And although Bayer ended the manufacture of heroin for medicinal use in 1913, illicit importation and distribution networks in New York and San Francisco were already well established.
U.S. military involvement in Vietnam was credited with the next major surge in heroin smuggling into the United States. Political and economic turmoil in the region led to a surge in production from Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle. By the end of the U.S. war in Vietnam, there were some 750,000 heroin addicts on American streets.
Despite the billions of dollars spent to keep heroin off its streets, America’s efforts have been unsuccessful. Heroin is not only more plentiful in the United States than it was 30 years ago, but it is also cheaper and at its point of sale almost 10 times as pure.