Opiates are the class of drugs to which people most often associate with the term "Addict." This class includes opium, morphine, codeine, percodan, methadone, and the most famous of all: Heroin. Other synthetic substances are included such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and a close relative meperidine (Demerol). The use of opiates has been around for centuries, primarily for the relief of intense pain, and they are indispensable in medical practice.
However, opiates and narcotics have also been used for centuries by man to get high and inebriated. Narcotics use generates a physical dependence, addiction, and increased tolerance. The drug heroin is the most popular of all narcotics because of its intense euphoria and long lasting effects. Heroin is synthesized from morphine and is ten times as potent. Heroin (diacetylmorphine) is actually 2 molecules of morphine. It is a bitter tasting powder and varies in color from white to dark brown. heroin, to date, has no legitimate use in the United States.
Pure heroin is rarely sold on the street because traffickers cut or dilute it so that the substance sold is less than 5% heroin. In fact, when pure heroin does make it to the street and is purchased, the users quite often overdose and die because they are not used to the strength of the dose.
Methods of Abuse and Effects
Heroin is usually injected directly into the bloodstream by the abuse (called mainlining). It can also be injected under the skin, which is called skin-pooping. Today, it is popular to smoke heroin, just like 'crack' cocaine.
The euphoric effects of narcotics are short lived. The subsequent effects are pinpoint pupils, reduced vision, drowsiness, apathy, decreased physical activity, constipation, sleep nausea, vomiting and respiratory depression.
Withdrawing from narcotics will begin shortly before the next scheduled dose. The intensity of physical symptoms is directly related to the amount of drug used each day. Complete physical withdrawal lasts from seven to ten days. The symptoms exhibited during withdrawal are: Running nose, watery eyes, perspiration, yawning, restlessness, irritability, loss of appetite, diarrhea, stomach cramps, panic, chills, pain, and muscle spasms.
Addicts risk infection and disease from dirty needles. As noted earlier, since purity is difficult to determine, potency is difficult to predict and overdose is always a danger. Repeated use of narcotics results in increasing tolerance, which requires larger and larger doses and eventually, complete dependence. Just like alcoholism, once a heroin addict, always a heroin addict.
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