Opiates: Drug Addiction and Heroin

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Opiates:
Heroin, Pain Pills, and Methadone
Opiate use in the United States and all over the world is destructive to society and the user. From heroin to a prescription from your family doctor, opiate use is everywhere. In this paper I will discuss the history of heroin, withdrawal, the prescription pain pill epidemic, short and long term effects, and other general information on opiates and their use. History of Heroin

Heroin was first created by C.R. Alder Wright in 1874. His purpose was to find a non-addictive form of opium that still had the same properties for pain relief. While boiling morphine and certain chemicals together, he came up with a more powerful and potent form of morphine and it was even more addictive. It was not to be used again until the 1890’s.

In 1897, Felix Hoffman and the company he worked for, “Bayer,” were looking for a new pain reliever. Felix Hoffman started working with acetylsalicylic acid and diacetylmorphine in hopes of developing a new medicine. They found that acetylsalicylic acid was good for minor aches and pains, and that diacetylmorphine was helping various breathing problems such as tuberculosis, asthma, and bronchitis (Opium, page 2).

In 1898, “Bayer” started selling diacetylmorphine as heroin. It would not take long before the government would step in. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made all narcotics illegal. This made heroin addicts either buy it on the street or get a written prescription by a doctor. In 1918 the laws were made even stricter and in 1924, there was a ban on all forms of opium (Opium, page 3). Methods of Heroin Use

The most common use of heroin is injection. It is injected into the vein using a hypodermic needle. This is the fastest way for heroin to reach the brain and the onset of euphoria takes seven to eight seconds. Intravenous injection gives the greatest intensity. Intramuscular injections give the slowest onset of approximately five to eight minutes.

Other forms of use are snorting and smoking. When heroin is snorted up the nasal passage it is normally felt within ten to fifteen minutes. This method is now being reported as the main method for users being admitted into treatment.

The last form is using heroin is smoking, it is also known as “chasing the dragon.” When smoking heroin, the onset of euphoria is felt almost instantly, though smoking and snorting does not give you the quickness or intensity as intravenous injection. The Effects of Heroin

After using heroin, in one of the many ways, it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Once the heroin reaches the brain, it is then turned into morphine and very quickly binds the opioid receptors.
Once it reaches the brain, there is a surge of pleasurable sensation. This feeling is also known as a “rush.” Then comes the feeling of warm skin, a dry mouth, the legs and arms feel very heavy. That is then soon followed by nausea, vomiting, and/or itching. The user soon feels the inability to concentrate, or show apathy, and they often feel drowsy. Heroin causes the pupils to contract and look like pin points.

Heroin used in larger doses “brings on the nod,” severe drowsiness, and a sense of being separated from the real world (Guide4Living, page 1). Heroin also takes away moderate to severe pain, and gives the user the desire for food and sex. The effects of heroin only last for a couple of hours, and then withdrawal and a strong craving for more kick in. Addiction to Heroin

Addiction to heroin can come faster than the user expects. Physical dependence comes with using higher doses to get the same effect. The body adapts to the drug being there and pretty much goes into shock when it is taken away.

Major withdrawal symptoms occur about 24 - 48 hours after the last use, depending on the person. The withdrawal effects will begin to ease up after about a week, some heavy users say that they still feel withdrawal symptoms months after they stopped using the drug. Heroin withdrawal will not...
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