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What is Heroin? Information about Heroin

What is heroin? Trusted information on heroin, including its addictive and dangerous properties. Plus learn about heroin and how it’s used.

Information about heroin has been available for over one hundred years making the question, "what is heroin?" easy to answer. Heroin is a semi-synthetic drug derived from morphine, which is derived from poppies (how is heroin made?). Heroin information also indicates heroin is an opioid drug - a drug that binds to opioid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and gut. The key information to know about heroin is that it is most commonly found as a street drug and has high potential for abuse, addiction and harm.

What is Heroin? - About Heroin History

Heroin, scientifically known as diacetylmorphine, was first synthesized in 1874 in London. English chemist C. R. Alder Wright attempted to learn, what was later to be known as, heroin information. More about heroin wasn't known, however, until 1895 when the drug company later to be called Bayer, marketed diacetylmorphine under the brand name Heroin.1

Heroin information at the time suggested heroin could be used as a non-addictive substitute for morphine, a highly abused recreational drug at the time. However, later the addictive and harmful properties were learned about heroin use and heroin addiction. Information on heroin shows it was used as a cough suppressant and as an anti-diarrheal.

What is Heroin? - What is Heroin Used For?

Heroin is a powerful pain-killer and is available by prescription in some countries like the United Kingdom for pain management and palliative care. In the Netherlands prescription heroin is also available for severe heroin addicts for whom methadone treatment has failed. Because the dangerous side effects and likelihood of addiction is known about heroin, anywhere it is legally available, use is strictly controlled.

What is known about heroin street use is that heroin is found to induce transcendent relaxation and euphoria, known as the "rush." Information on heroin indicates during the rush users also feel:2

  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing of skin
  • Heaviness in the arms and legs
  • Clouded mental function

Heroin information also shows after the initial rush the person nods in and out of wakefulness, known as being "on the nod."

What is Heroin? - Heroin info on How Heroin is Used

Information about heroin shows heroin euphoria is highest when heroin is injected and lowest when heroin is ingested (swallowed). Information about heroin use methods includes:

  • Injection - the most pleasurable and most risky form of heroin use. Risk of contraction of HIV is high due to prevalence of needle sharing.
  • Smoking - involves vaporizing the heroin and inhaling the resulting vapor.
  • Suppository
  • Snorting
  • Ingestion - uncommon due to lack of feeling the initial pleasurable rush.

It is known about heroin that the faster heroin enters the bloodstream, the greater the chance of addiction, making injecting the most addictive method of heroin use.

For more general information on heroin, click the "next" link below. For information on

  • Heroin Addiction: Signs, symptoms, causes, effects, life of a heroin addict, withdrawl and treatment issues.

article references


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next: History of Heroin and Famous Heroin Addicts
~ all heroin addiction articles
~ all articles on addictions

Last Updated: 20 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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