Who doesn’t want to feel overflowing joy? Who does not want to feel competent, confident and energetic? Who does not want to feel heroic? Nobody. No wonder so many people are addicted to heroin. Sadly, it is not only about sheer happiness. Heroin addiction has severe consequences.
History of Heroin
Diamorphine (Heroin) is synthesized from the alkaloid morphine which is found in opium poppy. It was first synthesized by English chemist Charles Romley Alder Wright in 1874. This did not popularize Heroin until morphine was later synthesized into diacetylmorphine by Felix Hoffman who works for the pharmaceutical company Bayer which later spearheaded marketing diacetylmorphine under the brand name Heroin. It was first sold as an over-the-counter non-addictive morphine substitute from 1898 to 1910. Four years later, the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act was passed to control the sales of opioids such as Heroin. As of today, it falls under the category of Schedule I drugs, which means that it is illegal to use Heroin (and diamorphine in general) for non-medical purposes.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Heroin-related deaths have soared by more than 5 times from 2010 to 2016. This is yet another proof of the widespread Heroin addiction plaguing the country.
“The drugs are to prevent the rest of the world from crowding in on you,”
-Singer-songwriter John Lennon of The Beatles.
Sadly, many musicians fell prey to the deceptive charms of drug abuse. Not only did they abuse various substances, but they also incorporated their experiences into their songs thus further popularizing the use of substances. Heroin is one of those popular chems. For some reason, Heroin use and abuse were popular among Jazz musicians. Notable cases include jazz singer Eleanora Fagan (Billie Holiday), Joe Pass, Ray Charles and sax legends Charlie Parker and Art Pepper. Heroine abuse became even more widespread in the music industry as Heroin abuse plagues rock bands of the mid-1960s through 1990s. Several rock musicians, such as Pantera’s Phil Anselmo and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain became users, abusers, and even addicts. These statistics do not necessarily mean that it is the music industry that popularized the use of Heroin. The frequency of Heroin addiction among popular people is a sign of how well Heroin addiction has embedded itself into our culture as a norm. With Heroin being talked about casually and being referenced by pop culture, there is no denying how widespread Heroin addiction is.
Effects of Heroin
First and foremost, it is important to note that Heroin is not accepted as medically useful in the United States thus making the use of Heroin completely illegal even though it falls under the category of Schedule I drugs. That is, Schedule I drugs can only be legally consumed for medical purposes but Heroin has no perceived medical purpose in the US thus no legal way to consume it. However, Heroin is used in other areas of the world, such as the United Kingdom, as a treatment for acute pain including that of terminal illnesses.
Recreationally, Heroin is used because of the feeling of euphoria. One will feel as if they are in a transcendent state filled with joy and consequently perceived competence. Some experts believe that Heroin produces more euphoria than opioids.
Why is Heroin very Addictive?
Relative to other drugs, Heroin is fast in terms of inducing tolerance. Hence, after a few doses, the person will become resistant to the euphoric effect (or the medical effects if used for treatment). Because of this, there is a tendency for a person to take more of the drugs thus developing dependency.
Adverse Effects of Heroin Abuse
Heroin, just like other opioids have no long-term effects (except dependence and addiction of course). However, it can inflict instant damages that can cost you your life. For instance, intravenous use of Heroin can cause cross-contamination hence transferring blood-borne diseases such as HIV or even fungal infection. The substances used to dilute heroin are also toxic and causes even more potential harm if taken through injection.
Smokers and IV users may also develop leukoencephalopathy, a disease that causes progressive brain damage. IV users are also prone to nephrotoxicity.
Heroin overdose is fatal and effects will kick in from a few minutes to several hours. The risk is increased by Heroin’s interactions with other depressant drugs including alcohol and benzodiazepines as some facilities reported.
Heroin overdose fatality is caused by lack of oxygen due to the lack of breathing normally caused by opioid overdose. Since Heroin overdose can also cause vomiting, there is also a high risk of vomit aspiration especially because of the lack of consciousness.