Opiate describes any of the opioid analgesic alkaloids found as natural products in the opium poppy plant. Heroin is a highly addictive opiate street drug derived from the morphine found in poppy plants, though it is often “cut” or combined with synthetic ingredients. Heroin can be abused through nasal administration or IV/needle injection. Heroin users have a high risk of contracting Hepatitis C and HIV.
This street drugs’ potency varies, is instantaneously addictive, all levels of strength gets to the brain very quickly and its users are at high risk for overdose. Although heroin use in the general population is rather low, the numbers of people starting to use heroin have been steadily rising since 2007. From 2001 to 2013 there was a 5-fold increase in the total number of deaths related to heroin overdose, soaring to more than 8,000 deaths in 2013.
Heroin reverts to morphine which creates changes in the brain that render an insatiable urge for more of it, despite the risks. Those risks arise when opioid receptors in the brain stem are so incapacitated they can’t perform essential functions such as breathing, regulating blood pressure and sensing pain. The list of destructive health effects is long and topped with permanent brain damage and death from overdose.
Certain prescribed medications can create another dependency on heroin such as soboxone, subutex and methadone. All of these prescribed medications are also habit forming and can lead to addiction.