Heroin first was synthesized in 1874 and is a derivative of morphine, which is a natural substance extracted from certain poppy plants. In 1898 it was distributed as a medical pain killer it was used a lot in the 1900s until it became a controlled substance in 1914 under the Harrison Narcotic Act. Heroin is considered highly addictive and is the most abused opiate. Heroin can come in various forms, pure heroin is white with a bad taste. Heroin can come in colors ranging from white to dark brown. Different colors are caused by impurities and the manufacturing process.
Heroin can be injected, smoked or snorted. Injecting it produces the greatest intensity and the fastest effects. Effects are usually felt in 7 to 8 seconds but, smoking or sniffing heroin takes longer more like 10 to 15 minutes. Smoking and Sniffing heroin has grown in popularity because of the concern for sharing needles. After ingestion, heroin makes its way into the brain. When heroin is in the brain it converts to morphine and combines rapidly with the opioid receptors. Users usually feel a rush or surge of pleasure. The strength of the feeling depends on how much heroin was ingested and how fast it bonds with the opioid receptors. The surge usually makes the skin feel warm, dry mouth, and the legs and arms feel heavy. The user can also feel nauseous and can experience severe itching. The user will feel drowsy and confused for several hours after using. If used repeatedly tolerance and dependence can occur. Physical dependence can affect the user and causes withdrawal symptoms if use is reduced. Withdrawal symptoms include muscle and bone pain, restlessness, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and involuntary leg movements. The symptoms peak between 24 and 48 hours. and can last for a week or even a month. Heroin withdrawal is usually not fatal in health adults. Between 750,000 to 1,000,000 million people use heroin.