Heroin and Its Deadly Addiction

By: Nicholas Dessanti

What Interests Me About This Topic

I chose this topic because of the publicity it has gotten in the news around New Hampshire and I was curious to learn a little more about heroin. As soon as I started reading the article, I realized how big of an epidemic it really is. I always find it interesting to see why so many people end up trying it even though they may know the possible deadly risks.


The opium poppy was cultivated in lower Mesopotamia as long ago as 3400 BCE. The chemical analysis of opium in the 19th century revealed that most of its activity could be ascribed to two alkaloids, codeine, and morphine.

Diacetylmorphine or Heroin was first synthesized in 1874 by C. R. Alder Wright, an English chemist working at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London. He had been experimenting with combining morphine with various acids.

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Biology Behind This Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is processed from morphine and usually appears as a white/brown powder or as a black, sticky substance. It either injected, snorted, or smoked.

People become addicted to heroin because of the feeling i gives them and they want to feel it again and again. The problem is that your body becomes more and more tolerant, which means you have to take more of the heroin for your body to experience the same rush.

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The two treatments available for heroin addicts are Pharmacological Treatment or Medications and Behavioral Therapies. Both of these treatments help to restore a degree of normalcy to brain function and behavior, resulting in increased employment rates and lower risk of HIV and other diseases and criminal behavior. I think it is very important for people to know that no single treatment is appropriate for everyone.

Around 10 hours after an addicted person has last used heroin, they begin to feel anxious or agitated, their eyes begin to tear-up and they begin yawning. They also begin sweating and getting feverish, start to have stomach cramps and diarrhea, begin to have muscle cramps and spasms and experience chills. Many people addicted to heroin describe experiencing their bones aching and a feeling that they want to crawl out of their skin.
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Statistics (2015)

  • 24.6 million people 12 or older (9.4% of the population) live with substance dependence or abuse
  • 1.9 million Americans live with prescription opioid abuse or dependence, while 517,000 Americans live with heroin addiction
  • Opioid addiction disease occurs in every American State, County, socio-economic and ethnic group
  • 23% of heroin users develop chronic opioid addiction disease
  • 5,927 people died after using heroin in 2012 and that number jumped to 8,260 deaths in 2013 (latest numbers available)
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There are numerous long and short term effects of the use of heroin. Some short term effects include reduced pain, brief euphoria, and nausea. The long term effects can end up deadly due to addiction and tolerance of the drug, which makes you want more and more to get the same feelings.

Repeated heroin use changes the physical structure and physiology of the brain, creating long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that are hard to reverse.

Once a person becomes addicted to heroin, seeking and using the drug becomes their primary purpose in life.

With physical dependence, the body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced abruptly.

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Interesting Facts

  • Health risks to using heroin include: Fatal overdose, High risk of infections such as HIV/AIDS, Collapsed veins, Infection of the heart lining and valves, Liver disease
  • Heroin was first manufactured in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company of Germany and marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis as well as a remedy for morphine addiction
  • After an addiction has been formed to this drug, it can be very expensive to maintain. At the height of someone who is trying to live with this addiction, it may cost them $250 per day to support their habit.

Works Cited

"11 Facts About Heroin." 11 Facts About Heroin. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015. <https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-heroin>.

"Heroin Deaths Increase for the Third Year in a Row - CNN.com." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/14/health/heroin-deaths-increase/>.

"History of Heroin." Narconon International. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015. <http://www.narconon.org/drug-information/heroin-history.html>.

"What Are the Treatments for Heroin Addiction?" What Are the Treatments for Heroin Addiction? N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015. <http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-treatments-heroin-addiction>.