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What Type of Drug is Heroin (Guide 2022)

Are you familiar with the drug “Heroin”? Do you know what type of drug is heroin? 

Well, if you don’t, we will give you a clear picture today. 

Drugs are substances that can change or damage our body’s natural system1 psychologically or physically after entering our bodies. Some drugs are legal, like alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, and some are illegal, like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and cannabis resin. 

Different countries have different rules for drugs. The source of each drug is different. Some drugs are plant-based, like, marijuana and tobacco. Some drugs are processed plant products, like alcohol and heroin. Some are synthetic chemical drugs2, like, LSD and cocaine. 

There are different ways to take drugs; some drugs are in the form of solid and taken by feeding, some are in the form of liquid and taken by drinking and by injecting into the blood directly, and some drugs are in the powdered form and taken by snorting through the nose.

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The main aim of the drug is to enter the blood and affect different parts of our body. Some drugs are psychoactive that can affect the mental state of the brain. People become addicted to these types of drugs.

There is a basic science behind it. When we do the activities of our interest, our brain releases chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Our brain releases many types of neurotransmitters,3 but the neurotransmitter related to addiction is dopamine.

Dopamine gives us a good feeling or feeling of happiness, and that’s why we want to take drugs again and again. Dopamine is produced in the brain after taking drugs; that’s why addicted people want to take drugs again and again.

There are various categories of drugs4. The drugs not prescribed by doctors are very harmful to our health. There are also many illegal drugs. We cannot advertise such drugs; heroin is one of them.

What Type of Drug is Heroin Afterall?


Heroin is a very addictive drug that is made from morphine. Morphine is a natural substance taken from the plant known as Opium poppy.5

The scientific name of the Opium poppy plant is Papaver somniferum. Opium poppy plants are grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.

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The chemical name of heroin is diacetylmorphine6, a derivative of morphine. Heroin is usually found in the form of powder which is white or brown coloured. It can also be a black sticky substance known as black tar heroin.

Heroin was first created in 1898 in Bayer, Germany. The purpose of heroin was to treat tuberculosis and cough. It is also used to treat alcohol and morphine addiction.

Nowadays, heroin is a highly addictive and dangerous drug in the world. Heroin addiction is very harmful to our bodies.

There are many ways to take heroin in the body, it can be taken by injecting either into a vein or a muscle, inhaling its smoke through a straw, a process known as chasing the dragon, smoking in a pipe, or it can also be smoked mixed with marijuana joint or a regular cigarette, or it can be snorted as a powder.

The ways of taking drugs usually depend on the purity of drugs and the user’s preference.

Heroin Users

Heroin use rises significantly amongst young people. The cost for a single dose of heroin of 0.1 gram is $ 15 to $ 20 in the U.S. Around 13.5 million people take opioids worldwide, of which 9.2 million take heroin. 

A proverb about heroin is- I will take your money, I will take your freedom, I will take your family, I will take your life. My name is heroin.

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Drug Injection Equipment

We all know that most people worldwide take drugs by injecting them into a vein or a muscle and get addicted to them. Taking any drug is harmful to our body but taking drugs by injection is very harmful.

Many times, there is a possibility of getting infected with the infections like HIV and Hepatitis B by sharing drug injection equipment like syringes among many people.

There will be a formation of very dangerous bound at the place where an individual injects drugs repeatedly.

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An individual should always use a new sterilized syringe to inject drugs into his/her body. There should be proper hygiene while injecting drugs.

When injecting a drug, an individual should always wash the place of injection with spirit and hot water. An individual should not inject drugs at a place repeatedly.

Read more about Drug Injection Equipements

Effects of Heroin

There are many effects of heroin-

  • A rush of euphoria,

  • Dry mouth,

  • Warm flushing of the skin,

  • Relief from pain and anxiety,

  • Unnaturally heavy legs and arms,

  • High body temperature,

  • Parched mouth,

  • Nausea,

  • Vomiting,

  • Slow or irregular heart rate,

  • Slow breathing,

  • Dreamlike state.

Effects of Regular Use of Heroin

There are various effects of the regular use of heroin-

  • Heart lining and valves infections,

  • Hepatitis C,

  • Kidney disease,

  • Pulmonary complications,

  • Skin infections and abscesses,

  • Oral health problems,

  • Damaged teeth,

  • Swelling in the gums,

  • Skin problem,

  • A problem in sexual functioning.

Effects of Long-term Heroin Use

There are various effects of long-term heroin use-

  • Permanent organ damage- liver and kidneys

  • Brain damage.

  • Lung problems- tuberculosis and pneumonia

Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is when an individual is physically dependent on any substance, regularly taking or using any substance, and having difficulty with work or social relationships.

Misuse of drugs is known as drug abuse. Drug abuse is a condition in which any drug is being used for a purpose other than it is formulated.

In most cases, drug abuse is related to CNS (Central Nervous System) related activity, which causes a feeling of well-being or happiness.

What type of drug is heroin
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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

SAMHSA stands for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. SAMHSA leads public health efforts to advance the behavioural health of the nation.

Heroin Overdose

Heroin overdose is a condition when the amount of heroin taken is huge in our body. It is a serious and dangerous public health issue due to the rapid increase in the death rate from overdose.

Heroin overdoses kill more people under age 50 than anything else. Approximately,000 people died from overdoses of heroin from 1999 to 2020.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

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Although research suggests that most individuals who misuse prescription opioids do not start using heroin, as prescription painkillers become harder to obtain, heroin has become more available. Heroin is also reported to be a cheaper alternative to prescription opioids.

Heroin withdrawal will not be the same for everyone; it depends on many factors-

  • How long has someone used opioids

  • How many opioids were used each time

  • Which opioids were used

  • How long between uses

Heroin withdrawal depends on various factors concerning an individual-

  • When withdrawal starts

  • How severe withdrawal is

  • How long do withdrawal symptoms last

Heroin withdrawal Timeline

Heroin is a short-acting opioid, meaning its effects do not last long. Generally, these symptoms are at their worst in not more than 1 to 3 days.

They then usually subside over 4 to 5 days a week. However, some symptoms may continue for weeks, months, or years such as depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

48 to 72 hours after stopping use, an individual got an extreme craving for the drug, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, and vomiting. The addiction recovery rate for heroin is 5 to 10 %.

Reduce Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include- nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, sweating, muscle spasm, muscle pain, bone pain, increased heart rate, and dilated pupils.

Individuals experiencing discomfort from opioid withdrawal that persists for multiple hours should receive medication. Those who are not a good fit or do not want maintenance treatment should undergo detoxification.

Once the withdrawal syndrome is managed, the person can slowly tap off the medication. If symptoms are still present despite appropriate detoxification, adjunctive medications may help alleviate them.

Opioid Receptors

Opioid receptors are a group of inhibitory G protein-coupled receptors with opioids as ligands. Opioid receptors are linked with the peptide helix. Opioid receptors are found in our brain and the spinal cord in our body.

There are 3 types of opioid receptors-

  1. Mu or Mu opioid peptide receptor (MOP)

    Mu receptors are found in cortex (laminar 2 and laminar 4), thalamus, periaqueductal grey, and substantia gelatinosa.

  2. Kappa or Kappa opioid peptide receptor (KOP)

    Kappa receptors are in the hypothalamus, periaqueductal grey, claustrum, and substantial gelatinosa.

  3. Delta or Delta opioid peptide receptor (DOP)

    Delta receptors are found in the lateral parabrachial nucleus (LPB), Amygdal (Amy), olfactory bulb, and Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC).

This was all about heroin. Heroin is an opioid made by crude preparation of diamorphine or by acetylation of morphine. Heroin is a semisynthetic product.

This is all we can sum up for you regarding Heroin, what kind of a drug it is, and its effects on our bodies. 

  1. Baker, Nena. The body toxic: how the hazardous chemistry of everyday things threatens our health and well-being. North Point Press, 2008. ↩︎
  2. Sacco, Lisa N., and Kristin M. Finklea. “Synthetic drugs: overview and issues for congress.” (2016). ↩︎
  3. Lang, Kerstin, et al. “Induction of a metastatogenic tumor cell type by neurotransmitters and its pharmacological inhibition by established drugs.” International journal of cancer 112.2 (2004): 231-238. ↩︎
  4. Tsuang, Ming T., et al. “Co-occurrence of abuse of different drugs in men: the role of drug-specific and shared vulnerabilities.” Archives of general psychiatry 55.11 (1998): 967-972. ↩︎
  5. Kapoor, L. Opium poppy: botany, chemistry, and pharmacology. CRC Press, 2020. ↩︎
  6. Dole, Vincent P., and Marie Nyswander. “A medical treatment for diacetylmorphine (heroin) addiction: a clinical trial with methadone hydrochloride.” Jama 193.8 (1965): 646-650. ↩︎


Kanika Chaudhary

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