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Heroin (C21H23NO5 -- diacetylmorphine, diamorphine, junk, or smack) is a white crystalline alkaloid opiate, derived from morphine by acetylation[?].

It was first synthesised in 1874 by C.R.A. Wright, a British chemist working at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, London. He had been experimenting with combining morphine with various acids. He boiled anhydrous morphine alkaloid with acetic anhydride over a stove for several hours and produced a compound that he called tetra acetyl morphine, which we now call diacetylmorphine. The compound was sent to F.M. Pierce of Owens College, Manchester, for analysis. He reported the following to Wright.

Doses ... were subcutaneously injected into young dogs and rabbits ... with the following general results ... great prostration, fear, and sleepiness speedily following the administration, the eyes being sensitive, and pupils dilated, considerable salivation being produced in dogs, and slight tendency to vomiting in some cases, but no actual emesis. Respiration was at first quickened, but subsequently reduced, and the heart's action was diminished, and rendered irregular. Marked want of coordinating power over the muscular movements, and loss of power in the pelvis and hind limbs, together with a diminution of temperature in the rectum of about 4 [1] (http://adhpage.dilaudid.net/heroin)

Heinrich Dreser[?] (who discovered aspirin), of Bayer of Elberfeld, Germany[?], noticed that diacetylmorphine was almost 10 times more potent than morphine. Bayer registered heroin (meaning 'heroic treatment' from the German word heroisch) as a trademark. From 1898 through to 1910 it was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough medicine for children.

As a medicine, heroin is administered usually in the form of its hydrochloride[?] as an analgesic.

It is also illictly used as a powerful and addictive drug producing intense euphoric sensations. It is highly addictive.

Methadone is another drug often used to substitute for heroin in treatment for heroin addiction. Methadone is just as addictive as heroin and should not be used as a substitute.

Heroin is very similar to endorphins, the natural opiates of the body, but less potent. The body responds by stopping the production of endorphins after heroin consumption. Endorphins are regularly released in the brain and nerves to attenuate pain. The body's response in stopping endorphin production results in the slighest pains not being attenuated by the brain and therefore becoming an horrible agony. This is what causes the horrible withdrawal symptoms, although they can be easily relieved with the help of acupuncture.

While heroin is a dangerous drug, it's the lack of available sincere information, lack of quality control and infected syringes that cause the most deaths. Critics of drug prohibition contend that since addiction can be treated with acupuncture, most of the suffering surrounding heroin is directly caused by prohibition, not by the drug itself.

Heroin is a controlled substance, but traffic is very heavy worldwide, with the biggest producer being Afghanistan, which after a ban from the Taliban in 2001 dropped its production by 95% but revived it to record numbers following the US military occupation and fall of the government. The CIA has been accused to be among the world's biggest drug smugglers[?] [2] (http://gnn.tv/crack/), including heroin as one of the most profitable illicit drugs, which mostly comes from the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Asia, Vietnam, Indonesia.

Short and Long Term Effects of Heroin include:

  • mental confusion
  • euphoria
  • slow and shallow respiration
  • nausea and vomiting
  • spontaneous abortion
  • AIDS/HIV and hepatitis infections by shared needles
  • overdoses (sometimes fatally)
  • long-term criminal involvement to support heroin habits
  • malnourishment
Withdrawal symptoms The withdrawal syndrome from heroin begins within 12 hours of discontinuation of the drug: sweating, malaise, anxiety, depression, general feeling of heaviness, cramp-like pains in the limbs, yawning and lachrymation, sleep difficulties, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and fever occur. Most addicts also complain of 'itchy blood,' which is very painful.

See also: recreational drug use

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