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Related: drugs - heroin in art, fiction and music - 'heroin chic'

Heroin was commercially developed by Bayer Pharmaceutical and was marketed by Bayer and other companies (c. 1900) for several medicinal uses including cough suppression. --http://wings.buffalo.edu/aru/preprohibition.htm [Aug 2005]


Heroin or diamorphine (INN) (colloquially referred to as junk, babania, horse, golden brown, smack, black tar, big H, lady H, dope, skag, juice, diesel, etc.) is an alkaloid opioid. Heroin is the 3,6-diacetyl derivative of morphine (hence diacetylmorphine) and is synthesised from it by acetylation. The white crystalline form is commonly the hydrochloride salt, diamorphine hydrochloride.


For almost everyone, heroin is a mythic substance. Unfortunately, real laws are created based upon these mythic notions. Real humans spends real years in real jails because our culture judges them on myth rather than fact. The degree of punishment is the only difference between the junkie doing ten years in prison today and the mid-wife being burned at the stake in the 17th century. --http://www.heroinhelper.com [Nov 2004]

Heroin house

Tech-house, minimal house, micro-house, dad house - in a cheap bit of alliteration, ubiquitous music writer Simon Reynolds even tried to label it "heroin house." Whatever you call it, though, the subtle, experimental side of the global house scene has been chugging along for nearly a decade now, always just underneath the mainstream radar. --Brian Dillard


  • 1898: Diacetylmorphine was trademarked as heroin by Bayer
    As early as 1899, researchers began to report patients developing 'tolerance' to the drug, while a German researcher denounced it as 'an extremely dangerous poison'. By 1902 - when heroin sales were accounting for roughly five percent of Bayer's net profits - French and American researchers were reporting cases of 'heroinism' and addiction -- [...]


    1972 In England, the pharmacy cost of heroin is $.04 per grain (60 mg.), or $.00067 per mg. In the United States, the street price is $30 to $90 per grain, or $.50 or $1.50 per mg. [Wald et al. (Eds.) op. cit. p. 28]


    1805 Friedrich Wilhelm Adam Serturner, a German chemist, isolates and describes morphine.

    History of heroin

    Heroin was first synthesised in 1874 by C.R.A. Wright, a British chemist working at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School, London. He had been experimenting with combining morphine with various acids. He boiled anhydrous morphine alkaloid with acetic anhydride over a stove for several hours and produced a more potent, acetylated form of morphine. We now call it diacetylmorphine. The compound was sent to F.M. Pierce of Owens College, Manchester, for analysis. He reported the following to Wright.

    Doses ... were subcutaneously injected into young dogs and rabbits ... with the following general results ... great prostration, fear, and sleepiness speedily following the administration, the eyes being sensitive, and pupils dilated, considerable salivation being produced in dogs, and slight tendency to vomiting in some cases, but no actual emesis. Respiration was at first quickened, but subsequently reduced, and the heart's action was diminished, and rendered irregular. Marked want of coordinating power over the muscular movements, and loss of power in the pelvis and hind limbs, together with a diminution of temperature in the rectum of about 4 [1] (http://adhpage.dilaudid.net/heroin.html)
    Heinrich Dreser (who discovered aspirin), of Bayer in Elberfeld, Germany, noticed that diacetylmorphine was more potent than morphine. Bayer registered Heroin (meaning 'heroic treatment' from the German word heroisch) as a trademark. From 1898 through to 1910 it was marketed as a non-addictive morphine substitute and cough medicine for children. As with Aspirin, Bayer lost some of its trademark rights to Heroin following World War I. In 1924, the United States' Heroin Act made it illegal to manufacture or possess heroin in that country.

    Usage and effects
    Heroin is a mu-opioid agonist. Like all drugs of its class, it binds to and activates mu-opioid receptors found in the brain, spinal cord and gut. As a medicine, it is administered usually in the form of its hydrochloride as an analgesic for severe pain. It is illegal even for this purpose in the United States, but it is legally used by cancer patients in the United Kingdom and other countries.

    Heroin is also widely and illicitly used as a powerful and addictive drug producing intense euphoria. Although many other mu-opioid agonists (e.g., morphine) can produce essentially the same effects, it is thought that heroin's popularity with recreational users comes from its especially rapid onset. This in turn comes from its high lipid solubility provided by the two acetyl groups, resulting in a very rapid penetration of the blood-brain barrier after nasal inhalation or intravenous injection. Once in the brain, heroin is rapidly metabolized into morphine by removal of the acetyl groups.

    Heroin is chemically dissimilar to endorphins, the natural (endogenous) opioids of the body and less potent. It competes with the endorphins for the specialized endorphine (opioid) receptors found on the surfaces of some body cells. The body responds by reducing (or even stopping) production of endorphins when heroin is consumed. Endorphins are regularly released in the brain and nerves and attenuate pain. Their other functions, if any, are still obscure. The reduced endorphin production in heroin users makes them dependent on the heroin since lack of either endorphins or heroin results in the extreme symptoms including pain (even in the absence of physical trauma). This is what causes the withdrawal symptoms in heroin addicts as the body takes some time to restore endorphin production.

    Production and trafficking
    Heroin is a controlled substance produced for the market through opium refinement processes. Traffic is heavy worldwide, with the biggest producer being Afghanistan, which after a ban on poppy growing by the Taliban in 2001 dropped its production by 95% but revived it to record numbers following the US military occupation and fall of the Taliban government. Currently, 86% of the global heroin supply is cultivated in Afghanistan, up from 75% in 2003 according to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime. The estimated value of the 2003 harvest is 2.8 billion USD. Some observers, particularly political conservatives in the United States, have accused China of being a leading producer of heroin, but the facts do not appear to back up these claims. Heroin is one of the most profitable illicit drugs since it is compact and easily concealed. At present, opium poppies are mostly grown in the Middle East, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and in Asia, especially in the region known as the Golden Triangle straddling Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Yunnan province in China. There is also cultivation of opium poppies in the Sinaloa region of Mexico and in Colombia. The majority of the heroin consumed in the United States comes from Mexico and Colombia. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin [Feb 2005]

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