10 Surprising Facts About Heroin

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Heroin is one of the most potent and deadly illicit substances in the world. As the opioid epidemic wages on, we see more people succumb to heroin’s wrath every day. It seems that all eyes have been on this powerful drug lately. Despite all of the attention it may be getting, there still may be more about this drug that you may not know.

Heroin Used to Be Legal

Whenever people think of heroin, they automatically associate crime with the drug. While the drug is illegal now, and possessing any quantity of the illicit substance will land you in jail, this was not always the case. In fact, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, heroin was legal!

Heroin Once Was Used As Medication

Piggybacking off of the previous fact, heroin was legal and also sold over the counter! That’s right, while it can be extremely difficult to imagine now, there was once a time that heroin was sold as a “safe, alternative pain relieving” medication.

It was marketed as a “less addictive” alternative to morphine. A variety of products were sold containing heroin such as cough syrups and even medications for infants! It wasn’t until a few years later that scientists realized that heroin was, in fact, more addictive and potent than morphine.

It Comes from the Poppy Plant

Many people do not realize that heroin actually has a natural, botanical source. Heroin comes from the opium poppy, also known as the poppy plant. After about three months following the planting of the poppy seed, the poppy flowers bloom. As the petals fall away, an egg-shaped seedpod in the middle of the flower is exposed. It is from here a thick sap is excreted, which is opium in the purest form. The poppy flower farmers will then extract the sap and ship it on the black market to be refined into pure opium and eventually heroin.

While Withdrawals are Uncomfortable, They’re not Deadly

Anyone who has ever undergone heroin withdrawals can tell you just how awful the experience may be. The addict may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms as soon as six hours after the last dose is administered. While these withdrawal symptoms can be intense, heroin withdrawals, themselves, are actually not life-threatening.

Heroin Comes in Three Different Colors

Heroin has several different faces. Heroin is almost always in powder form, but the hue of this powder comes in a variety of colors. White and brown heroin powder is the most common types of heroin. Heroin also comes in a sticky form that is black in color known as “black tar heroin.” The color of the drug is usually a telltale sign from which region it has originated. White heroin powder typically comes from Asia, Colombian and Afghan heroin is usually brown in color, and black tar is usually sourced from Mexico.

Many Different Phrases Come from Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin has affected our culture in a variety of ways, including different phrases and sayings that come from heroin withdrawal symptoms. The phrase “kicking the habit” is derived as a result of the twitching legs heroin users experience during withdrawal. Also, the phrase “going cold turkey” comes from heroin users experiencing goosebumps from the severe cold flashes they may experience from heroin withdrawal.

Most of the Heroin Supply Originates from Afghanistan

It was estimated that approximately 93 percent of the world’s opium supply originated from Afghanistan in the mid-2000s. Since heroin is sourced from opium directly, most of the world’s heroin supply originated from the Afghan poppy farmers. Approximately $4 billion was made as a result of the exports, with three-fourths of the total going to traffickers and the remaining one-fourth going to the Afghan opium farmers.

9.2 Million People Abuse Heroin Worldwide

Heroin addicts are not in short supply. In fact, while heroin remains a severe issue for the United States thanks to the current opioid epidemic, it is also a worldwide issue affecting approximately 9.2 million people total.

The Creator of Heroin Died A Heroin Addict

Even though heroin technically does come from the poppy plant, it still had a creator. The German chemist responsible for the creation of heroin was named Heinrich Dreser. Working for the Bayer Company, Dreser was determined to create a product that would be highly marketable and make him a fortune. In 1898, Bayer began selling heroin over-the-counter as a remedy for a variety of different ailments and touted the drug as a “safe” alternative to morphine. What they failed to realize was that heroin was far more addictive and potent than morphine. Ultimately, Heinrich Dreser would ironically die at the age of 64 as a heroin addict, himself.

Heroin Has Been Banned in the United States Since 1924

Heroin may not have always been illegal, but after years of it being sold over-the-counter and the multitude of social implications that came from the wide use of the drug around the country, something had to be done. In 1924, The Heroin Act was signed into legislation, which declared heroin a dangerous substance and made the act of owning or manufacturing the drug illegal, which it has remained for nearly 100 years.

Do You Need Help?

While these facts about heroin may be interesting, the important fact is the tragic and devastating effect this drug can have on those who find themselves addicted. If you or someone you know has been struggling with heroin addiction, let Pathway to Hope help! Call us 24/7 at 844-557-8575 or contact us online and be connected to an addiction specialist who can help you start on the road to recovery today!

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