This use of heroin has been a part of our society for more than a century now. As with any opioid, this substance is both highly addictive and leads to a difficult withdrawal process. With continued abuse, heroin and opioids will completely take over the lives of those who are addicted.
Street heroin comes in a variety of forms that are usually not readily identifiable to those unfamiliar with the drug. It is sometimes found in a powder form, either brown or white. At other times, it is sold as “black tar” heroin, which looks very much like the name would indicate.
The “high” users experience from heroin is due to the drug’s targeting of pleasure centers within the brain. Following ingestion (snorting, smoking, or injecting) the body converts heroin into morphine. Once in this form, it is able to bind to the brain’s opioid receptors and cause a state of intense euphoria.
The possibility of an overdose on heroin is very real and is a growing problem in emergency rooms around the country. Making the situation even worse, street heroin is also frequently mixed with other drugs, typically cocaine or other stimulants. This combination enhances the chance of overdose to an even greater degree.
Besides stimulants, heroin is often “cut” with other impurities by dealers to stretch their supply of the drug. Again, these substances cause heroin to pose an even greater risk to the user’s health. Additives used by heroin dealers may include:
- Baking soda
- Laundry detergent
- Talcum powder
- White sugar
Undergoing heroin rehab can present many challenging situations for the addicted person. The unfortunate reality is that relapse is a common occurrence. Changes in the addict’s neurochemistry, due to extended use, can trick the brain into thinking that it needs the drug to carry out normal functions.
Because of the extreme nature of this type of addiction, heroin detoxification should only be performed when professional medical personnel are available to monitor and supervise. Going “cold turkey” can be a severely painful process and often results in a failed attempt at rehabilitation. By withdrawing from within a facility, one can gradually step down with substitutes such as methadone.