Heroin has been around since it was first synthesized in 1874 by C.R. Alder Wright who added two acetyl groups to the molecule morphine found in the opium poppy. It was created to treat severe pain. When it is used for medicinal purposes, it is called diamorphine and was first sold by the company Bayer. When heroin is administered it is broken down in the body to morphine. Heroin is highly addictive and causes many changes in the body. It effects brain chemicals over long-term use and can cause respiratory failure and death. Under the chemical name diamorphine and diacetylmorphine, heroin is a legally prescribed controlled substance in the United Kingdom. Heroin is prescribed for long-term users as a form of opioid replacement therapy in Denmark, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Switzerland.
In the educational system in the United States, heroin is taught as being one of the most deadly and dangerous drugs on the market. It is common for police officers and addiction specialists to go into schools and warn students of the dangers of heroin. The problem is that most heroin addicts never start with heroin directly. Their first experience with opioid drugs is with prescription painkillers. As a person's addiction escalates, and they can no longer afford the pills, they turn to the cheaper alternative, heroin.
Heroin use can spread many bloodborne illnesses when abused. The most associated are Hepatitis and HIV, which is spread when Heroin users share or mix up their needles. When injecting heroin, it's common for the user to pull back some blood into the needle before injecting the heroin. They do this to make sure the needle is in a vein before injecting. This leaves traces of blood in the needle which is easily passed on to the next user who injects themselves with that needle.
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS is very common bloodborne virus that's transmitted between intravenous drug users. Sharing of needles is the major cause of the transmission from one user to another. Hepatitis is a virus which causes inflammation of the liver and is also common amongst intravenous drug users. There are 3 forms of Hepatitis; A, B, and C. Hepatitis A is the least serious of the three. It can be caused by contaminated water or food and spreads under poor sanitary conditions. It will enlarge the liver but not cause permanent damage. Hepatitis B is much more serious than type A. It can cause long-term damage and cirrhosis of the liver. It is transmitted by using dirty syringes or having unprotected sex with someone who is infected. The onset of type B can take from two months to six months to appear. It greatly depends on the person's physical health at the onset of Hepatitis.
Most addicts are in terrible physical shape and this can be particularly hard on their body. Hepatitis C is very similar to B with a few differences. It's onset can take from two weeks to six months. More cases are showing that the disease can stay dormant in the body for long periods of time. It destroys the liver and shuts the livers ability to cleanse one's body. A person suffering from Hepatitis C is in a fight for their life. They may be jaundice (yellowing of the skin) for periods of time. They need to be extremely careful of what they eat and drink and need to keep themselves as healthy as possible as the liver is unable to flush toxins from their system. Hepatitis C has no cure, and can be fetal. If you or someone you know is addicted to any type of drug, especially heroin or prescription painkillers, please seek professional medical attention immediately.