While making assumptions in life can never bode well for either party involved, one assumption we feel safe making is your familiarity with the opioid crisis. The United States has many dark points in history that we look back on. One day, once we’ve finally gained control of opioid abuse, we will look back and see how dark these times were.
Nearly 130 people die every single day as a result of the opioid crisis. As a whole, overdose deaths have decimated our society. From 1999 to 2017, 702,000 people have lost their lives to drugs. Of those deaths, 68 percent involved a prescription or illicit opioids. When you think about the sheer magnitude of death, you begin to realize what opioids have done to our communities. The crisis began in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies assured doctors that patients would not become addicted to their product. It led doctors to prescribe opioids for minor accidents, such as ankle sprains, but the increase led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids. In the mid-2000s, stricter regulations were put in place to curb overprescribing.
Unfortunately, this had an unexpected effect. By this point, individuals were already hooked on opioids, and this led to buying them cheaper and buying the much more potent heroin. Nearly 75 percent of those interviewed reported that prescription opioids are where they got their start. Eighty percent of heroin users reported using prescription opioids before heroin. When someone is hooked, it doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as they can avoid being ill.
Heroin use is a significant problem that affects our public. As someone reading this, you may wonder if there are other ways heroin can be administered other than injection. Let’s delve a little deeper into the topic and discuss different ways heroin can be used.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an illicit and highly addictive drug processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance from the seed pod of poppy plants. It is commonly sold as a brown or white powder that can be cut with starch, sugar, or powdered milk. Pure heroin, which is not all that common, is a white powder that is extremely bitter. It originates in Southeast Asia, South America, and Mexico.
Types of Heroin
- Black Tar: Often referred to as black, or tar – it is a tar-like and sticky product because of how it’s processed. It is different than powder, and the color will vary based on what agents were cut with the drug. Black tar heroin is typically produced in Mexico and contains a low percentage of pure heroin. It is quicker and easier to create, which makes it cheaper than other forms of heroin.
- White Heroin: White heroin, sometimes referred to as “China White,” is the purest form of the drug. Unfortunately, it’s usually cut, which reduces its purity. It is challenging to identify and will not always appear to be white.
- Brown Heroin: Less pure and potent than white heroin because it is not refined. It is produced during the first stage of purification. It is much easier and less expensive to produce than white heroin.
Can You Snort Heroin?
The short answer is, yes, heroin can be snorted. Many people feel that snorting the drug makes it safer than injecting – this is not true. Heroin, despite the route of administration, is highly potent and addictive. When heroin is released into the brain, it breaks it down into morphine and binds to naturally occurring receptors that cause feelings of euphoria. The high is a result of released dopamine, which is also known as the feel-good chemical.
Snorting the drug causes an intoxicating and euphoric high that can occur in five to ten minutes. It may seem as this is a fast onset, but when people inject the drug, they experience the high in seconds. The rapid onset is why some people move onto injecting heroin.
The only way to snort heroin is if its in powder form. When the drug is snorted, it goes through the nasal tissue and is released into the bloodstream. You can easily overdose on heroin when it is snorted.
Can You Smoke Heroin?
While most people inject or snort the drug, an increasing number of individuals have engaged in smoking heroin vapor. In some cases, heroin users will smoke the substance to avoid the inevitable stigma that comes with intravenous drug use. Many will do this because, like snorting, they believe it is a safer way to consume the substance. As in the case of snorting, that is not true. Smoking the drug can cause serious health problems, which can lead to heroin addiction.
Black tar heroin is the most common form of the drug that is smoked. It is placed on aluminum foil above a flame, and then inhaled through a glass tube, rolled up dollar bill, or a straw. The effects can be felt in 10 to 15 minutes and can lead to a heaviness and distancing from their surroundings. Smoking heroin puts significant strain on your lungs.