How Heroin is Made
Heroin is an opiate, made from the opium poppy – indirectly derived from the morphine. Afghanistan is the leading illegal opium and heroin exporter, producing over 80 percent of the world’s heroin supply. But the epidemic we face in the US was actually spearheaded right here.
The drug — diacetylmorphine — was named “heroin” by Bayer, the company which first synthesized it 1895. That’s right: a real, legitimate pharmaceutical company invented heroin. Believe it or not, heroin was marketed as a non-addictive alternative to morphine. The public didn’t know any better. (Most still don’t when it comes to newer prescription opiates, like OxyContin or Vicodin.)
Once the poppy is ripening, its pod is scored, allowing a milky white latex to seep out, which dries into a sticky resin – raw opium. After turning morphine into heroin via a chemical reaction containing the chemical compound acetic anhydride, the heroin is then purified (using chemical or mechanical means), pressed into bricks, dried in the sun, and sealed and packaged for smuggling.
In its purest form, heroin is a fine, white, and powdery substance — very distinct. It might also be rose gray, brown or black due to additives (usually sugar or caffeine) which do not fully dissolve. When these additives are injected into the skin, they can clog the blood vessels, blocking blood flow to the lungs, kidneys, or brain. This can lead to infection or destruction of vital organs. Many heroin overdoses happen slowly like this; they don’t all occur suddenly as respiratory/cardiac arrest.
Other Forms of Heroin
Synthetic heroin – completely man-made – is popular these days. Though these contain zero opium, they can have similar effects. Some are actually intended for helping heroin addicts get or stay sober. Methadone is used for easing cravings by mimicking heroin without actually stimulating opiate-receptors – a useful tool, but one which can become a problem in itself, as can most drug agonists.
Other forms of synthetic heroin can be even more powerful than heroin – fentanyl for example. Many dealers cut their actual heroin with fentanyl to increase their profits, which, in certain parts of the US, has led to rapidly increasing overdose rates.
Most heroin overdoses happen either because of additives or because the user simply consumes too much. Heroin relapses are especially threatening because they often turn into lethal overdoses. Following a prolonged period of abstinence, addicts may fatally overestimate the amount they need to get high. It happens a lot.
Heroin has a remarkable ability to keep people hooked even months or years after abstaining. Blueprints for Recovery offers a variety of behavioral treatments to make sure you quit for good this time. Call today to discuss your options: (888) 744-9969