|HORSE - CRANK - JIVE - SMACK -JUNK - SHAG - DOPE|
|You can even spell it by its chemical name: diacetylmorphine. It doesn't matter which way you spell it, it still means HEROIN.|
|Heroin is an illegal opiate drug made from the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum. The opium poppy is a plant found in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and parts of Central and South America. To harvest opium, the seed pod of the poppy is cut and a juice flows out. The main ingredient that is extracted from raw opium is morphine. Morphine is easily converted to heroin by a chemical process.|
Places where opium is produced (shown in red)
|In 1973, scientists discovered that the brain had receptors for opiates. In other words, there are places on neurons that recognize opiates. These receptors were located in parts of the brain important for breathing, pain and emotions. The discovery of opiate receptors in the brain raised the question as to why neurons would have such receptors. Two years later, scientists found the answer: the brain manufactures its own opiates known as "endorphins." Endorphins are always in the brain, but they are released in greater amounts when people and animals are in pain or under stress.|
History of the Opiates
| Records indicate that opium was used by the ancient
Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The poppy even appears on Egyptian art
dating back 6,000 years. Opium was imported to China around 800 A.D. By
the 1600s, opium smoking was widespread throughout China. In 1680, a
physician named Thomas Syndenham introduced opium to the medical field.
In the 17th century, many people in Europe were treated for a variety of health problems with opium. In 1729, opium smoking was made illegal in China and soon the importation of opium was banned. This ban upset the British who were in charge of trading this valuable product. Opium was still smuggled into China and this caused the "Opium Wars" (1839-1842 and 1856-1860) between the British and the Chinese.
|In the US, opium was used to treat soldiers during the Civil War (1861-1865). During the late 1800s, doctors prescribed "tonics" containing opiates for many conditions. Rarely did these medicines list opiates as one of the ingredients. In fact, heroin was marketed as a cough medicine and a cure for morphine addiction. However, many physicians had concerns about possible addiction to these medicines.|
Important Dates in the History of Opiates1803 - morphine was isolated from opium by Frederick Serturner.
1832 - codeine was extracted from opium.
1853 - the hypodermic needle was invented.
1874 - heroin was first produced from morphine.
1898 - The Bayer Company introduced heroin as a substitute for morphine.
1906 - Pure Food and Drugs Act - required medicines to be labeled with the materials that they contained.
1914 - Harrison Narcotic Act - added a tax on opiate distribution.
1922 - Narcotic Import and Export Act - restricted the importation of crude opium except for medical use.
1924 - Heroin Act - made manufacture and possession of heroin illegal.
1930 - Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created.
1970 - Controlled Substances Act was passed - divided drugs into categories, set regulations and penalties for narcotics
How Heroin is UsedThe purity of heroin can vary greatly. Heroin can be mixed with powdered milk, sugar, baking soda, procaine and lidocaine (local anesthetics) or even laundry detergent, talc, starch, curry powder, Ajax cleaner or strychinine. All of these "additives" are dangerous if they are injected into the bloodstream. Heroin is smoked or inhaled as a powder or it can be mixed with water, heated, then injected. Heroin crosses through the blood brain barrier 100 times faster than morphine because it is highly soluble in lipids.
Injecting heroin into a vein (intravenous use) produces effects in 7 to 8 seconds. Injecting heroin into a muscle (intramuscular use) or under the skin (subcutaneous use) can produce effects in 5 to 8 minutes. Addicts sometimes inject themselves up to 4 times in one day.
Effects of HeroinThe overall effect of heroin is a depression of the central nervous system.
|Short Term Effects|
|Long Term Effects|
|In addition to the direct dangers of heroin,
this powerful drug also carries the risk of:
How Heroin Affects the BrainNot all of the mechanisms by which heroin and other opiates affect the brain are known. Likewise, the exact brain mechanisms that cause tolerance and addiction are not completely understood. Opiates stimulate a "pleasure system" in the brain. This system involves neurons in the midbrain that use the neurotransmitter called "dopamine." These midbrain dopamine neurons project to another structure called the nucleus accumbens which then projects to the cerebral cortex. This system is responsible for the pleasurable effects of heroin and for the addictive power of the drug. Other neurotransmitter systems, such as those related to endorphins, are also likely to be involved with withdrawal from and tolerance to heroin.
Treatment of Heroin Overdose and Addiction
| For more
information about heroin, see:|
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the Nervous System
|Exploring the Nervous System||Table of Contents|
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