Heroin Effects

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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Most people do not know much about heroin. According to a statement made by Alan I. Leshner Director of The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the congressional testimony on November 15, 1999, there are over 810, 000 people addicted to Heroin in the United states (National Institutes of Health). For that reason, it is of much importance for people to learn more about heroin, the different ways it is used, its effects, and the way addiction is treated.

Heroin is illegal, extremely addictive, and the most commonly abused drug in the United States. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of a variety of poppy plants (NIDA 1). Heroin is usually sold as a white or brown powder or as a black sticky substance, better known as "black tar" on the streets (NIDA 1).

Despite the fact that pure heroin is becoming more popular among heroin users, most of the heroin sold on the streets is usually "cut" with other drugs or substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk or quinine and other poisons (NIDA 1).

People who abuse heroin are at risk of overdosing or death every time they administer the drug, because they are not aware of the drug's actual strength nor its true contents (NIDA 1). "The health risks associated with both injecting and noninjecting heroin use are also substantial" (Leshner, 1). Heroin puts its abusers at risk of becoming infected with the HIV virus because of the high risk sexual activity (Leshner, 1), in addition to other diseases that can be transmitted through sharing needles or other injection equipment (NIDA 1).

Different ways of administering this illegal substance include, injecting, snorting, or smoking it. A heroin user can inject up to four times a day.

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