The Effects of Heroin on a Person’s Brain and Body: a Literature Review

Topics: Heroin, Morphine, Illegal drug trade Pages: 6 (1939 words) Published: March 31, 2013

The Effects of Heroin on a Person’s Brain and Body: A Literature Review

Heather Huber
Walden University
Psych 8226-04 Biopsychology
Dr. John Redmon
August 18, 2010
This literature review looks at the detrimental effects of heroin. Since many heroin users often become addicted, it is important to look at its ramifications. Beginning with a brief history of the substance, then discussing treatment programs for those who have problems with heroin abuse, this paper helps to better understand logical reasons that heroin is an illegal substance.

The Effects of Heroin on a Person’s Brain and Body: A Literature Review
Heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine, is an illegal drug in the United States and many other countries. Heroin has devastating results on the brain and body. This paper looks at heroin’s history, its consequences on the brain and body, addiction possibilities, and available options for treatment for heroin abusers. What is Heroin?

Chemical make-up
Breaking down the parts of the word, diacetylmorphine, di means two, acetyl is a radical derived from acetic acid, and morphine is a drug derived from the opium poppy plant used to relieve pain. Heroin, on the street, is generally not pure. Drug dealers often add other things in the drug to stretch their dollar (Furst, 2000). The term for adding things to a drug is called cutting it. According to Furst, easily attainable items, such as lactose and milk sugar, can cut heroin. Quinine, a psychoactive drug that enhances the heroin high, is also a common choice. History

Upon researching the history of heroin, very few research articles were located. Many tend to focus on its results in present day life. Unfortunately, this inequity of information in Walden University’s academic databases, the internet provided much of the information regarding the history of heroin. Using vigilant discernment and precise judgment, the following information appeared relevant and valuable in understanding the path of heroin. Heinrich Dreser, an employee of the Bayer Company (the same as today’s Bayer Asprin), first discovered heroin in 1895 by diluting morphine (PBS, 1998). It was later that heroin was advertised and sold as an over-the-counter medication. Acknowledged for having the pain relieving effects of morphine, without the side effects and addictions, heroin became the new choice for pain relief. Unfortunately, a researcher in Bayer laboratories unethically withheld the truth of this information (HeroinAbuse.Net, 2007; PBS, 1998). The use, abuse, and addiction to heroin grew in the United States, and around the world, throughout the early 1900s. Access to heroin on the streets, despite its illegal status, became easier and soon it became a headliner when American celebrities (Janis Joplin, John Belushi, and Kurt Cobain, to name a few) overdosed and died due to use of the drug and its mixture with other illegal substances (PBS, 1998). Today, heroin is still illegal, but is prominent in the lives of many who use or know someone who uses. Effects of Heroin on the Brain

Drugs become illegal usually due to the negative consequences. Franken, Stam, Hendriks, and van den Brink (2004) found that heroin can have a negative result on the brain by limiting and exciting different areas leading the long time abuser to have negative characteristics similar to both Alzheimer’s patients and individuals with multiple sclerosis (dementia and brain lesions, respectively). While their study shared a lot about long-term users of heroin, it failed to present information regarding limited-use of heroin users. It is valuable information to know how heroin use affects both groups. The difference between users and abusers will be discussed in the addiction section of this paper.

Li, et al. (2005) discovered major disruptions in the cerebral cortex and central nervous system...
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