Heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine, is a highly addictive Schedule I drug. It’s a heavily abused, extremely addictive, potent opiate. Some of its street names may include: Dope, smack, H, Junk, Snow, Brown, etc. Processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the opium poppy, which is indigenous to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

For information about the effects of heroin, click HERE

On the streets

Pure heroin is hard to find. In its pure form, the drug is a white, bitter powder. However, its color varies from white to dark brown, depending on the manufacturing process and/or the presence of other drugs or additives such as powdered milk or quinine.

Found in western and southwestern USA is another form: Black tar. Made in Mexico, it is extremely potent and highly addictive. It’s becoming more of an issue due to its cheaper sale price compared to conventional heroin and its amplified potency.

The history of heroin

The opium poppy plant has a lengthy history. It’s been traced back to the ancient Mesopotamian and Sumerian cultures, who passed it over to the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. It made its rounds from Greece to Persia and India, where it grew in mass quantities. 

The British began exporting it to China in the 1800s. Millions of people there became addicted to the substance, which led to two Opium Wars in an attempt by the Chinese government to ban the substance. By the mid-1870s, heroin became synthesized from morphine by Bayer, a pharmaceutical company. At the time, many considered heroin to be safer and non-addictive.

It became a common additive in cough medicines. By the early 1900s, the drug was deemed to be highly addictive and was banned in 1914 as part of the Harrison Narcotics Act.

Forms of administration

There are a few different ways a user can take this addictive drug:

  • Injections into the vein or just below the skin’s surface
  • Inhalation – heating the substance until it smokes, then inhale the smoke through a straw
  • Sniffing liquefied heroin through a nasal spray bottle
  • Users snort heroin as well, and usually mix it with substances like cocaine

Heroin paraphernalia

Those who inject the drug use a set of “paraphernalia.” This includes hypodermic needles, small cotton balls to strain the drug, spoons or bottle caps for “cooking” or liquefying the drug, and a “tie-off” that the user wraps around his or her arm to make the veins more visible. 

Paraphernalia for sniffing or smoking the substance can include razor blades, straws, rolled dollar bills, and pipes. Those who transport or traffic the drug often use balloons as well.

For information about the effects of heroin, click HERE


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