History of Heroin

Topics: Heroin, Drug addiction, Addiction Pages: 4 (1306 words) Published: February 23, 2014
History of Heroin

Heroin is named after the German word for hero, heroisch. Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as black tar heroin. Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is cut with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Street heroin can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.

A new wonder drug was developed in 1810, this new wonder drug, morphine, (also an opium derivative), was eliminating severe pain associated with medical operations or traumatic injuries. It left the user in a completely numb euphoric dream state, and was named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, by F.W.A. Serturner, a German pharmacist. By the mid 1850’s morphine was available in the U.S., and was pretty popular with the medical profession. The benefits of using the drug to treat severe pain were considered almost miraculous by the doctors of the time. The addictive properties of the drug went virtually unnoticed until after the civil war. During the civil war the number of people that were treated for their war injuries sky rocketed and tens of thousands of confederate and northern soldiers became morphine addicts. The United States was plagued with a major morphine epidemic in just over 10 years time. Although no actual statistics were kept on addiction, the problem had grown to large enough proportions that it...
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