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Author: Shernide Delva
By now, most of us know what heroin is, but are there things we do not know about the drug? A recent article listed several facts about heroin, and some of them were quite shocking. The United States is currently in the midst of a heroin epidemic. Therefore, it is critical that both medical professionals and the public fully understand this drug.
All About Heroin: A Basic Overview
In case you were unaware, heroin derives from morphine, a naturally occurring substance that can be extracted from the seedpods of several types of poppy plants. The chemical name for heroin is diacetylmorphine. Heroin is the fastest acting opiate drug. Whether heroin is injected, smoked or snorted, the drug enters the body rapidly and causes a range of physically and psychological effects.
The U.S. has seen heroin cycle in and out of popularity. In the 70s, heroin was becoming a huge problem in urban communities specifically in areas around New York City. It was estimated that close to 200,000 people in the city were using heroin. A popular park in New York City, known as Hyde Park, earned the infamous name “Needle Park” because the amount of syringes that were found all throughout the park. Fortunately, the heroin epidemic of that era died down around the time Rudolph Giuliani was elected. Many new yorkers credit Giuliani for the measures he took to clean up the city.
The Heroin Epidemic Today
These days, however, heroin is not hitting just urban communities; the epidemic has spread throughout the countries in places people would have never suspected. Areas in the suburbs are seeing a spike in heroin use. The prescription opioid epidemic is the main reason for this resurgence. Many who were prescribed prescription opioids by their doctors became dependent on the drug and soon moved on to heroin as a cheaper, quicker alternative.
Heroin is much cheaper than prescription drugs, and it is easier to acquire. As laws are placed to prevent further prescription drug abuse, heroin use becomes a more popular alternative. Unfortunately, it is a vicious cycle.
With new users come new problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. Heroin claimed the lives of more than 8,300 Americans in 2013.
Five Compelling Truths About Heroin
Now, that you know some basic information about the current heroin epidemic, here are five interesting facts about this dangerously addictive drug. Perhaps reading them will further solidify the reasons to avoid trying heroin in the first place.
What Being “On The Nod” Really Means.
When most people envision the high of heroin, they picture a person “nodding off” from the drug. Nodding off, or “on the nod” essentially describes a person who is in a state where they alternate between drowsiness and wakefulness for several hours. Imagine a student in a boring lecture trying desperately to stay awake. Their head will drop down as they get sleepier but immediately jerk upward in an attempt to stay awake.
The nodding from heroin use happens because heroin is a sedative. A person will go from feeling awake but sleepy and eventually fall into a deep sleep that he or she cannot be shaken from. While this may be desirable for a heroin user, it is the first step on the road to excess sedation. The nod can be especially dangerous if the user loses consciousness. In some cases, a person can slip into a comatose state and then sink into an overdose. Breathing becomes severely slow and sometimes stops.
Was Heroin Ever Sold Over-The-Counter?
Heroin was created from morphine in 1874. However, Heroin was introduced for medical use in 1890 by The Bayer Company of Germany. Three years before that, a chemist wanted to create a safer alternative to morphine— one that was less addictive and had fewer effects. In his attempt to create the drug, he created heroin, which he believed to be a more dilute form of morphine. The reason the drug was called “heroin” was because he believed the drug had heroic qualities.
Starting in the early 1900s, Heroin was found in products like cough syrups, and remedies for infant colic. Heroin was marketed and sold over the counter in the United States and several other countries. Doctors thought the drug was great for insomnia.
However, a few years later, heroin was discovered to be two to three times more potent than morphine, and more rapidly absorbed by the brain. Doctors also realized that heroin was actually more addictive than morphine! Needless the say, eventually the drug was taken off the shelves.
The “Heroin Chic” 90s Fashion Movement.
In the 90s, being waif thin was all the rage in the high fashion community. Models like Kate Moss, were so emaciated, that they looked like they were strung out on drugs. To add to the look, the models often posed with blank stares, dark eye circles, and pale skin.
During the same period, a new, less expensive version of heroin was entering the United States from Columbia. The new version outcompeted heroin coming from Asia and Southeast Asia. In fact, the Columbian heroin was so cheap and pure that it increased the number of heroin user and the depth of their drug use.
In 1997, not long after a fashion photographer died of a heroin overdose, the then-president Bill Clinton condemned the “heroin chic” images and advertisements. Clinton suggested that the images glamorized addiction to sell clothes.
Soon, the “heroin chic” look fell out of favor, and eventually much healthier looking models replaced the super skinny waif-like look.
The Different Colors of Heroin.
Heroin comes in three different colors. It is either a white powder, a brown powder, or a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin. You might have known this already, but do you know what country of origin is associated with the different types of heroin?
–White Powder Heroin: Heroin which is more refined and pure used to arrive from Southeast Asia. White powder heroin is becoming rarer in the United States. Much of the powdered heroin sold in the U.S. has fillers or contaminants added such as sugars, starches, and powdered milk.
— “Black Tar” Heroin: The sticky black heroin or “black tar” heroin comes to the U.S. from Mexico which is the only country that produces it. The drug resembles a black tootsie role. When the drug is cold, it is a hard substance, however, once the user warms up the drug, it appears sticky, resembling roofing tar.
Formed through an industrial process, black-tar heroin is known for being less pure and lower grade. It also is more similar to opium in its chemical makeup compared to other forms of heroin, and it has other opioid drugs, such as morphine and codeine, in it.
–Brown heroin: Lastly, we have heroin from Columbia which tends to be brown and chalky. Heroin from Pakistan and Afghanistan are also brown, but heroin from these countries are more commonly found in Europe.
Famous Phases from Heroin Withdrawals Symptoms.
Although you may associate phrases like “kicking the habit,” or “going cold turkey” with all drug use; the two phases actually originated from heroin withdrawal symptoms.Heroin is one of the most difficult drugs to withdraw from. Heroin withdrawal is a long-term process that involved commitment, professional treatment, and the right support system.
Over the years, our language has been influenced by what happens when people stops using heroin. The expression “kicking the habit,” for example, is thought to have originated from the kicking leg movements seen in people going through heroin withdrawals. When a person withdraws from heroin, their muscles become lethargic and heavy. They start to feel their legs become twitchy and uncontrollable, which leads to the kicking motion, hence the phrase “kicking the habit.”
Another withdrawal symptom of heroin is cold flashes and goosebumps, which some believe originated the phrase “going cold turkey.” When a person withdraws from heroin, their skin becomes more active. This results in goosebumps and the feeling of going “cold turkey.” Phrases like these are old terms and likely originate 50 to 70 years ago.
Was there anything you learned about heroin that surprised you? Now that you understand how addictive heroin can be, you should know that the best way to overcome this addiction is through receiving professional treatment. Do not try to overcome this disease on your own. You need a plan for recovery. Call today.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
I know what you’re thinking… but just set aside that thought for a second. Many of us know the flaws of contempt prior to investigation. So I ask of you to consider the following, and do some investigation yourself, to see what impact this whole idea might have.
You may remember, because I’ve written on the subject of safe injection sites many times, that last September the Harm Reduction Coalition convened with law enforcement and public health experts on an international level to deliberate on the possibility of supervised injection facilities helping to reduce the opiate addiction crisis and overdose death outbreak in American. Since then, officials in several states in America have proposed the implementation of supervised injection facilities, including:
In this discussion, reports were presented with some of the pros and cons of the concept, and with the press and politics focusing so heavily on addressing the epidemic status of heroin and opiate abuse I wanted to revisit the conversation with some information presented. I bring it up again because I have had a few conversations about these facilities; people seem split on the issue and many are misinformed.
What a Supervised Injection Facility IS
Supervised injection facilities (SIFs) are legally sanctioned locations where people who use intravenous drugs can inject pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision.
For those of you who keep implying it makes heroin legal, supervised injection facilities do NOT sell heroin to users OR make heroin legal. It is simply a place where people who are already using can safely use.
They are designed to reduce the health and societal problems associated with intravenous drug use, and have been shown to reduce injection-related risks and harms like:
- Vein damage
- Transmission of diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C
Public Injection Alternatives
Now when it comes to drug abuse and recovery from addiction, there is no cookie cutter answer and no express-lane (in my experience) to lasting sobriety. There are numerous programs put in place to provide different treatment alternatives, and one genre of treatment that has been making some come back is harm reduction- which includes supervised injection facilities and needle exchange programs.
As part of the consultation there was a report titled Alternatives to Public Injection in which experts with experience operating supervised injection facilities shared how such services were implemented in their countries. These areas included:
The experts also enclosed in the report how effective supervised injection facilities could be as an alternative solution to public health crises that involve injection drug use. Over the course of this committee there were other entities including:
- Open Society Foundation
- Foundation for AIDS Research
From these reports and discussions there came some relevant information that could be crucial to American policymakers. These points might also cause the everyday skeptic to pause and wonder if these kinds of initiatives can’t do some good.
- People who use SIFs take better care of themselves
- They reduce or eliminate their needle sharing
- Ultimately, participants reduce their drug use all together
- SIF participants gain access to other medical and social services
- Participants have resources to seek addiction treatment
- SIFs do not increase drug use in the surrounding area
- Crime and public disturbances decrease in the areas around these programs
- There has not been a SINGLE overdose death in any of these programs over many years of operation
That last one… that is an especially impressive statistic with all things considered! The simple fact that these sites, which are not yet in America, have been able to treat overdoses and eliminate deaths should at least have people thinking twice about supervised injection facilities.
Long Way to Go
The fact of it all is America has a long road ahead before we ever get to a place where this is a popular idea. Taking into account how many people on the outside of addiction looking in still only have an understanding based on stigma and fear, the reality is that it would be incredibly difficult to get this idea off the ground and make it work because every country in so far operating SIFs have stressed in order to successfully implement supervised injection facilities it is important to have support from all corners, such as:
- The community
- Local law enforcement
Greg Scott is a professor of sociology at DePaul University who has shown a strong sentiment for the need of progressive ideas that promote health and safety over incarceration and punishment. Scott stated,
“SIFs are practical, concrete, humane, and cost-effective.”
“In every respect, SIFs make sense. They represent a logical (and arguably moral) next step in the process of creatively and effectively providing the whole country with far better health solutions for drug users than have ever been available before.”
American families of every demographic and in every community are feeling the damages of the opiate epidemic and the side-effects of unscientific drug policies, causing an upsurge of interest in public health alternatives. No wonder more people are starting to take supervised injection facilities more seriously.
The Recovery Community
When it comes to people in the recovery community, I understand why some people would be cynical about the possibility of government run establishments allowing injection drug use of heroin or other dangerous narcotics.
Even asking people I personally respect in the local recovery community it seems I get answers ranging from one extreme to the other. Some still say that it is just making legal “shooting galleries” that enable addicts to avoid the consequences of their addiction.
Others say with so many people dying every single day, the numbers speak for themselves and no statistically and scientifically supported program should be ignored without at least a conversation.
Once more, I think the preservation of life and promotion of effective addiction treatment is worth some effort.
Now, tell us what YOU think.
Preventing of death and the spread of disease is vital, and getting the right kind of treatment for drug addiction is paramount to progress. If you or someone you love is struggling, don’t wait. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Just how far are the Florida anit-marijuana crusaders known as the ‘No On 2’ group willing to push the envelope as far as their campaign to undermine the legislation to legalize medicinal marijuana in the state of Florida? The Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative 2 is something that is being placed in the hands of the people very soon to either approve or deny, and this group of anti-marijuana advocates are pulling out all the stops in hopes that Florida will see that a ‘pot doc’ is a drug dealing boogie-man, and they are coming to corrupt your children, pillage and plunder!
Marijuana: The Date-Rape Drug?!
In ‘No On 2’s latest piece of anti-pot propaganda to prevent the legalization of medical marijuana the group has launched a new campaign that suggests marijuana, not alcohol or even specifically roofies, will be used as the new date rape drug?! How closely this reminds me of a certain black and white propaganda film from a long time ago.
photo via: http://mic.com/articles/96400/this-may-be-the-worst-anti-marijuana-ad-of-all-time
What is a date rape drug? It typically is NOTHING close to marijuana. Generally predators slip drugs like ketamines (Special K) or rohypnol (roofies) into drinks or food when their target isn’t paying attention in order to intoxicate the victim, sometimes beyond consciousness. Most of these drugs typically have no color, smell or taste. The drugs not only make you physically weak but slow down your brain. When an actual date-rape drug has been used it is described that you feel confused and thereby unable to refuse sex.
So from the sounds of it marijuana is nowhere near the common definition of a ‘date-rape drug’. A huge problem created with this kind of ad it that people then become distracted from the fact that alcohol is not only the most dangerous drug out there, but it is the single most commonly used substance ever credited to help commit all forms of sexual assault. Yet alcohol remains perfectly legal, and groups like ‘No One 2’ don’t seem too interested in bringing back prohibition.
Now I would be lying to say there isn’t some legitimate evidence to suggest that people experience impaired judgment while high on marijuana, the type of effect on reasoning and reaction time that is caused by actual date-rape drugs or alcohol is beyond any extent marijuana could effect on a person. Never mind the women survivors who have actually experienced sexual assault after being drugged with real date rape substances.
The Devil is in the Details?!
The ‘No On 2’ group previously posted a video called The Devil is in the Details which featured police officials and other so-called ‘experts’ on the subject who all claimed that Amendment 2 would grant easy access to pot for anyone, regardless of their medical state. In an attempt to prove this point
Yet the amendment specifically states that it “does not authorize ‘the use of medical marijuana by anyone other than a qualifying patient.'”
Sheriff Grady Judd, the president of Florida’s Sheriff Association made the claim that any vote to approve Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative 2 , is “a vote for legalizing marijuana forever in the state of Florida” and continued to imply that if approved, this initiative would not regulate the medical aspect.
Susan Kelsey, a constitutional law attorney was recording during the documentary that the amendment would be one of the most lenient medical marijuana laws in the country, and the video goes on to paint a picture of the initiative as being riddled with loop-holes, and designed to easily manipulate by pointing out the words ‘other conditions’ in the list of disease that would qualify patients to receive medical marijuana.
In this video the narrator even emphasizes that 90% of medical marijuana in other states is prescribed for “pain” in a sarcastic tone, which sounds like ‘No On 2’ means to state that all those cancer patients and other seriously ill individuals are probably faking it, along with people who have trouble sleeping right?
The Pill Mill Comparison?!
In this video, ‘No On 2’ goes even further with an attempt at what I personally see as a scare tactic. They try to compare Florida’s potential future medicinal marijuana industry to the recent ‘pill mill epidemic’ that swept through claiming lives of hundreds of residents. Thankfully
So they aim to show that pot is anything like Oxycodone? The organization pushing against medical marijuana is saying now that ‘pill mills’ will now be replaced with ‘pot docs’. ‘No On 2’ claims that ‘pot docs’ are going to be plaguing our neighborhoods, established next to every school and on every corner. They play very scary music, and use edgy camera angles to drive home how terrifying it will be when marijuana invades your home! But is it really that serious?
Teens and Care-givers?!
Now this part is just ridiculous. The Devil is in the Details claims that there is no age requirement in the legislation, which means kids will be able to obtain medical marijuana off of any drug dealer off the street, without the consent of a parent or guardian.
Also, the video states that ‘care-givers’ will be distributing medical marijuana and not liscened doctors. So they tell the viewer that the amendment basically legalizes anymore to be a drug-dealer, and to sell to all ages.
Worst of all, the video continues to threaten the viewer with the idea that this is an inescapable infestation of ‘pot docs’ and drug dealers that are being unleashed on their neighborhoods. The interviews in the short film consistently make claims that this new amendment is not about medication for the sick, it is about making money and protecting the drug-dealers and crooks while they destroy Florida with their dirty dope!
The Fact VS The Fiction
CLAIM– In reference to the availability of medical marijuana, the website asserts “anyone who wants pot will get it.”
FACT– In their decision placing Amendment 2 on the November ballot, the Florida Supreme Court affirmed that only patients with “debilitating” diseases and medical conditions would qualify for medical marijuana.
CLAIM– “Teens will be able to legally purchase pot without their parents’ consent.”
FACT- In order to purchase medical marijuana, you would need a doctor’s recommendation. Under Florida law, barring a few extenuating circumstances, physicians are not allowed to provide medical treatment to minors without parental or guardian consent.
CLAIM– Amendment 2 will lead to a “pill mill”-like scenario in Florida. “Pot docs” will “spring up next to restaurants, schools, churches and supermarkets.”
FACT– The State of Florida’s office of Economic and Demographic Research has already addressed this issue. Required physician examination, the application process with the Department of Health, the regulatory structure that would be implemented by that same body and subsequent protective laws that may be passed by the legislature would make this scenario extremely unlikely. (See pages 10-11 of OEDR Financial Information Statement)
CLAIM– felons-even drug dealers would be able to qualify as caregivers in order to administer medical cannabis to severely ill patients.
FACT– If the amendment is passed, the Florida Department of Health will be tasked with issuing detailed regulations regarding qualification requirements for caregivers. During that process United for Care will fight alongside any organization that is concerned about making sure nobody with a record of dealing drugs can become a qualified caregiver.
The thousands of men and women who use medical marijuana to treat severe problems, from anxiety and depression to chronic pain and inflammation are not helpless victims who are void of a comprehension of the effects of marijuana. They are people who battle REAL diseases and suffer REAL pain, despite what the people in ‘No On 2’ may assume with their vast experience.
Perhaps it is true that more effort should be taken to ensure the medical marijuana is legalized in a safer and more constructive environment. Perhaps the general public should make sure they are aware of the current amendment being put forth and the effect it will have on the community. However, scare-tactics and false information is probably not the best way to motivate positive improvement in a changing policy. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135