Sunday, 21 February 2016

Chapter 4, The Death Route: ‘Genocide’ of a Great Civilization'

Chapter 4

What is Heroin?

It Is Nothing A Sure Way To Untimely & Painful Death...

Heroin, a highly intoxicating substance ranging from blackish to brown to dirty and then pure white in colour; is derived from raw opium. Opium poppy is known to have been cultivated in lower Mesopotamia as back as 3400 BC. Heroin salt, that is ‘Diamorphine’, as such, however, got discovered only in 1874 when C. R. Alder Wright, an English chemist working at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London accidentally synthesized it while experimenting combinations of morphine with various acids.

Wright's invention, however, did not lead to any further developments, and this product namely ‘Diamorphine became popular only after it was independently re-synthesized 23 years later by another chemist, Felix Hoffmann of Bayer pharmaceutical company in Elberfeld, Germany. They gave it the name ‘heroin, based on the German ‘Heroisch’ which means ‘heroic, strong.' At that point of time it was supposed to be just an analgesic, cough suppressant and an anti diarrheal medicine. From 1898 through to 1910, Diamorphine was, thus marketed under the trademark name ‘Heroin’ as a ‘non-addictive’ morphine substitute and cough suppressant.


                                                                ‘Heroisch’ (Heroin)

It is painful indeed that this ‘medicine’, like other pharmaceuticals including those belonging to Amphetamine and Meth- Amphetamine groups, soon became more popular because of its ‘side effects’ rather that what they were originally intended to be and in no time became famous as ‘recreational medicines’ giving a terrible ‘high’, though with disastrous side effects. As on date it is a ‘banned substance’ almost all over the world. It is, however, illegally consumed by addicts in a number of ways. Intravenous injection is the fastest route of administration, causing blood concentrations to rise most quickly, followed by smoking, suppository (anal or vaginal insertion), insufflations (snorting), and ingestion (swallowing).
               Intravenous injection                           Smoking
                     Suppository                            Insufflations (snorting)
                                     Ingestion (swallowing)
There are several types of heroin making round in the markets and they include; Black heroin, Tar heroin, Brown heroin and White heroin
 Heroin purity has been classified into four grades. No.4 is the purest form – white powder (salt) which can be easily dissolved and injected. No.3 is ‘brown sugar’ and used for smoking (base). No.1 and No.2 are unprocessed raw heroin (salt or base).

                                              This is what Heroin looks like

  Heroin production 
Heroin production is almost a cottage or home grown industry in Afghanistan, which is the largest opium and consequently heroin producing area as well in the world, closely followed by countries like Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and neighbouring areas of Thai Land. Basically it involves four steps, namely;
1- Collection of raw opium (Pictures courtesy, the Net)

2- Converting raw opium to morphine base with the help of some basic chemicals and hot water. (Pictures courtesy, the Net)

3- Conversion in to a Brown heroin Base with the help of some acids and ‘precursor’ elements. (Pictures courtesy, the Net)

4- Further refinement in to the White heroin base in the same way but with the help of some different chemicals / precursors. (Pictures courtesy, the Net)

5- Collecting the final product that is the White heroin hydrochloride. (Pictures courtesy, the Net)

Short Term Effects of Heroin Use
Heroin is a highly addictive drug. It binds the opium receptor in the body, releasing   dopamine which gives ‘feelings of pleasure leading to growing addiction thereof. It hits the central nervous system leading to Drowsiness, Sedation and Lethargy and then to ‘nodding’, that is periods of being awake and being asleep. The ‘high’ from heroin decreases with continued use and the user becomes increasingly addicted to the drug. The onset of ‘tolerance’ frequently promotes ingestion of higher and higher amounts, which result in overdose and ultimately leads to death. The risk of death from overdose is a concern for people using heroin both in short or long terms because ‘dosing’ is impossible to measure due to difference in purity. Essentially, it's never a safe time to use heroin either by a first timer or a veteran user.
Short time effects of heroin include; Nausea and vomiting,   grogginess, confusion, dry mouth, itchy skin, miotic or constricted pupils’ ,light sensitivity, lower than normal body temperature, slowed respiration, slowed heart rate, cyanotic (bluish) hands, feet, lips, etc.
Many of these complications and side effects are compounded by using other substances with heroin, especially those which depress the body, for example, alcohol or sedatives. The combined effects can lead to dangerously slow breathing, lack of oxygen to the brain, heart problems, coma, and death.

Long term effects
Long term effects of heroin use include; Decreased dental health marked by damaged teeth and gum swelling, Excoriated skin from scratching, severe constipation, increased susceptibility to disease from diminished immune system, weakness and sedation, poor appetite and malnutrition, sleeping problems and decrease in sexual functioning etc. Some of the great risks of long term heroin use are the potential for irreversible impact on the liver or kidneys from damage or from infectious diseases. The brain can also be adversely affected due to lack of oxygen. Problems from abscesses, bacterial infections, and infections of the heart valves are also common. Pregnant women who use heroin are at risk of miscarriage, and place their children at risk of communicable disease, as well as being addicted to the drug right from birth.
Additionally, someone addicted to heroin is also likely to experience numerous personal consequences, such as financial issues, relationship turmoil, school or employment troubles and legal penalties etc..
Heroin Dependence
One of the most dangerous aspects of heroin is its ‘dependence’. It includes; restlessness and discomfort, pounding or racing heartbeat, anxiety, shaking, sweating, shivering, pain/aches in the muscles and bones, diarrhea, vomiting and inability to sleep.


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