Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid prepared from morphine. Its chemical name is diacetylmorphine or diamorphine. It was discovered in the later 1890’s by a German chemist looking for a non-addictive alternative to morphine. At the time, the world had many men with what was called “soldier’s disease.” This mysterious disease proved to be morphine addiction acquired by the free adminisration of morphine to wounded soldiers. Doctors of the time had little understanding of the concept of addiction. Heroin, prepared by boiling morphine base with a chemical called acetyl anhydride, proved to be superior to morphine as a painkiller, but it didn’t take long for the medical community to discover that heroin was even more addictive than its parent drug morphine. This article will discuss what heroin detox looks like.
Heroin Over the Counter
Also around the same time, patent medicines containing morphine and heroin were freely and cheaply available in general stores and mail-order catalogs. Sears and Roebuck displayed an advertisement for vials of morphine with a hypodermic syringe in its mail order catalog. Many of these remedies were directed at women for the treatment of what was euphemistically called “women’s troubles.” Subjects like menstrual cramps and women’s diseases were not discussed in polite company, if at all. Women could buy these medicines, which did indeed relieve pain, discreetly, and there was no stigma to this at the time.
In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act required manufacturers of food and drugs to accurately disclose ingredients on their labels, but it didn’t ban anything. Some eight years later, in 1914, the Harrison Narcotic Act required morphine, heroin and certain other drugs to be supplied by prescription only. The United States saw the last of legal heroin in 1924, when it was banned altogether. To this day, the drug remains in Schedule I, the most highly controlled drug classification there is. Other Schedule I drugs include LSD and marijuana. Heroin isn’t illegal in all countries. In Britain, it’s prescribed for severe pain. In other European countries, particularly the Netherlands and Denmark, heroin is available as a treatment for opioid use disorder.
Heroin Use Today
Heroin, stronger than ever before, is also being used more than ever before and by all levels of society. This is partly due to the backlash of the so-called opioid epidemic. As one after the other state regulatory boards cracked down on the prescribing of legal opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone, doctors stopped prescribing them, leaving patients on their own. Perhaps some of the these people simply stopped their opioid use, but a great many did not. First, they turned to friends and family as a source. When that didn’t work or tapped out, people turned to black market prescription pills. At first, this worked as long as one had the money to pay as much as $30 for a single 30-milligram oxycodone pill. However, for those who couldn’t afford that, heroin offered an attractive alternative. At about $80 a gram, that works out to be far cheaper than black market oxycodone pills. At about thirty percent average purity, a gram of heroin provided over 300 milligrams of actual heroin. That’s quite a bit and certainly is good for multiple doses.
Like all opioids, heroin’s detox looks like this:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Restless leg syndrome
- Stomach, bone, muscle, back and head pain
- Drug cravings
- Hot and cold flashes
- Inability to sit or lie comfortably
- Lack of appetite
Symptoms can last anywhere from a week to a month. Strangely enough, for all its power, heroin’s detox is often shorter than oxycodone’s. Taken orally, the two drugs are probably about equal in potency, but heroin is rarely swallowed. It’s usually injected, smoked or snorted. The coveted “rush” can only be achieved by intravenous injection, but smoking, called chasing the dragon, produces a near-instant effect as well.
The horrors of heroin detox have been greatly eliminated by the introduction of Suboxone around the early part of this century. The synthetic opioid in the combination drug, buprenorphine, relieves opioid withdrawal symptoms in most people. When buprenorphine doesn’t work, methadone almost certainly will. Both buprenorphine and methadone can be used either short-term or long-term.
Do you Need Help?
Please contact us at 844-639-8371 anytime for help with a problem with heroin. Our experienced counselors will evaluate your situation and then refer you to the best facility for your needs.