Saturday, May 5, 2012

Heroin Research paper

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History of Heroin

Heroin is named after the German word for hero, heroisch. Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates. Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. It is typically sold as a white or brownish powder or as the black sticky substance known on the streets as black tar heroin. Although purer heroin is becoming more common, most street heroin is cut with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. Street heroin can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. Because heroin abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at risk of overdose or death. Heroin also poses special problems because of the transmission of HIV and other diseases that can occur from sharing needles or other injection equipment.

A new wonder drug was developed in 1810, this new wonder drug, morphine, (also an opium derivative), was eliminating severe pain associated with medical operations or traumatic injuries. It left the user in a completely numb euphoric dream state, and was named after the Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, by F.W.A. Serturner, a German pharmacist. By the mid 1850’s morphine was available in the U.S., and was pretty popular with the medical profession. The benefits of using the drug to treat severe pain were considered almost miraculous by the doctors of the time.

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The addictive properties of the drug went virtually unnoticed until after the civil war. During the civil war the number of people that were treated for their war injuries sky rocketed and tens of thousands of confederate and northern soldiers became morphine addicts. The United States was plagued with a major morphine epidemic in just over 10 years time. Although no actual statistics were kept on addiction, the problem had grown to large enough proportions that it raised serious concerns from the medical profession. Doctors had no idea how to treat this new epidemic.

The answer to this increasing problem was thought to have been found in the invention of a new drug in Germany. The new wonder drug was called HEROIN, after its German trademarked name. It was imported into the United States shortly thereafter. The instant market to the American doctors and their morphine-addicted patients was that Heroin was a safe, non addictive substitute for morphine. It was sold in drug stores and was as common as asprin.

Why People Start Using Heroin

There are many reasons why someone may begin using heroin. They may do it to be “in on something.” A person gets high to “be like my friends.” (For many, this can be an important reason for taking drugs.) Also, they do it to numb the physical or mental sufferings of life. In addition, to emulate role models. Celebrities admit to using heroin. Popular magazines try to make drug use seem “fashionable.” Drugs offer a “solution” to the feeling of many adolescents that they have “no future.” Young people are duped into believing lies about heroin, such as that it increases creativity, rids a person of problems and gives meaning to life. Experimenting with heroin offers the thrill and excitement of taking a risk.

Short Term Effects of Heroin

Soon after injection (or inhalation), heroin crosses the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, heroin is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors. Abusers typically report feeling a surge of pleasurable sensation, a rush. The intensity of the rush is a function of how much drug is taken and how rapidly the drug enters the brain and binds to the natural opioid receptors. Heroin is particularly addictive because it enters the brain so rapidly. With heroin, the rush is usually accompanied by a warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, and a heavy feeling in the extremities, which may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and severe itching.

After the initial effects, abusers usually will be drowsy for several hours. Mental function is clouded by heroins effect on the central nervous system. Cardiac functions slow. Breathing is also severely slowed, sometimes to the point of death. Heroin overdose is a particular risk on the street, where the amount and purity of the drug cannot be accurately known.

Long Term Effects

One of the most detrimental long-term effects of heroin is addiction itself. Heroin also produces profound degrees of tolerance and physical dependence, which are also powerful motivating factors for compulsive use and abuse. As with abusers of any addictive drug, heroin abusers gradually spend more and more time and energy obtaining and using the drug. Once they are addicted, the heroin abusers primary purpose in life becomes seeking and using drugs. The drugs literally change their brains.

Physical dependence develops with higher doses of the drug. With physical dependence, the body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced abruptly. Withdrawal may occur within a few hours after the last time the drug is taken. Symptoms of withdrawal include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (cold turkey), and leg movements. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 4 and 48 hours after the last dose of heroin and subside after about a week. However, some people have shown persistent withdrawal signs for many months. Heroin withdrawal is never fatal to otherwise healthy adults, but it can cause death to the fetus of a pregnant addict.

At some point during continuous heroin use, a person can become addicted to the drug. Sometimes addicted individuals will endure many of the withdrawal symptoms to reduce their tolerance for the drug so that they can again experience the rush.

Physical dependence and the emergence of withdrawal symptoms were once believed to be the key features of heroin addiction. We now know this may not be the case entirely, since craving and relapse can occur weeks and months after withdrawal symptoms are long gone. We also know that patients with chronic pain who need opiates to function (sometimes over extended periods) have few if any problems leaving opiates after their pain is resolved by other means. This may be because the patient in pain is simply seeking relief of pain and not the rush sought by the addict.

Solutions to the Problem

In my opinion, in order to stop someone from using heroin in the first place, education about the drug must begin at an early age. Many students hear about the drugs but are not well informed as to what they do or why people may do them. If they were more educated on their actual physical effects, rather than just being told that it is “bad”, they may be less likely to try it. Also, making kids and teens aware that they have many resources to help them when presented with problems like drug addiction and peer pressure is extremely important. They must know that they have parents, friends, family, teachers, counselors, and many other people to talk to. They should also know that they can research drugs on their own time using books and internet to learn more about these drugs.

In order to completely wipe out the use of drugs by all people, society must first rid itself of the drugs. This could be done by focusing more time, energy, and money on the war on drugs. Society must also discontinue the use of models who are extremely thin and have the “heroin chic” look, such as many of the Calvin Klein models. This promotes the use of drugs because then people begin to think that they are “cool.” These are only some solutions to help stop someone from using the drug for the first time.





How to Stop Time Heroin from a to Z . Contributors Ann Marlowe - author. Publisher Basic Books. Place of Publication New York. Publication Year 1.

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