Pubdate: Mon, 28 May 2007
Source: Labradorian, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2007 The Labradorian
Author: Keith MacKinnon
Note: Cpl. Keith MacKinnon is Labrador District Drug Awareness 
Coordinator, he reminds readers to make wise choices and say no to 
drugs. Cpl. MacKinnon can be reached at (Opinion)
Bookmark: (Drug Education)
Bookmark: (Heroin)


I asked a group of young kids once what they thought heroin was. One 
little girl piped up and replied, "Isn't that a hero that's a girl?" 
she inquired innocently mistaking the addictive drug with the word heroine.

Opium is processed from the milky fluid of the unripe seedpod of the 
opium poppy plant. The two most prevalent opiates in this fluid are 
morphine and codeine, both widely used in medicines today.

The main reason for the decline in the popularity of opium is the 
availability of semi synthetic and synthetic prescription opiates.

The regular oral use of opium began in ancient Greece and Egypt, 
spreading eastward to Asia.

Opium was originally chewed, eaten or blended in various liquids. The 
abuse potential of opium was relatively low because it tasted bitter, 
had a low concentration of active ingredients and the supplies were limited.

Smoking opium became widespread in the sixteenth century as pipes 
traded from North America to Asia by Portuguese traders opened the 
door for widespread non-medicinal usage. Since smoking introduces the 
drug into the bloodstream at a much faster rate than would oral 
ingestion, abuse problems began to arise. An attempt to ban it in 
1792 was unsuccessful; in large part due to how lucrative the trade had become.

In 1805, a pharmacist isolated morphine from opium. He found it to be 
10 times as strong as opium and therefore a much better pain 
reliever. It was used extensively in the Crimean war and U.S. Civil 
War for wounded soldiers. Unfortunately its greater strength 
increased the potential for opiate addiction.

In 1874, a British chemist refined heroin from morphine in an attempt 
to find a more effective painkiller that didn't have the addictive properties.

This failed however, as the intense rush of the drug created a 
subculture of compulsive heroin users. The development of the 
hypodermic needle in 1853 brought with it intravenous heroin usage, 
taking only 15-30 seconds for the injected opiate to affect the 
central nervous system.

This intensity further increased the specter of potential 
drug-seeking behavior. During the mid to late 1800s, opiate 
popularity was so great that hundreds of tonics and medications contained them.

Physicians at the time did not realize the addictive potential of 
opiate drugs and so physician-induced addiction was a common problem. 
Prescriptions varied to treat tired blood, insanity, toothaches, 
cough, diarrhea, etc. Snorting also became popular, especially for 
those afraid of needles, though the amount used was greater for equal effect.

As the twentieth century turned, governments began to enact laws 
prohibiting production and non-medicinal use of opiates.

Recently, smoking and snorting heroin have increased in popularity in 
the U.S. due to an influx of white and tar heroin from Columbia and 
Mexico. However, in the last decade the rate of heroin crime 
incidents involving police in Canada has decreased by 55 per cent. 
Opioids, especially heroin, affect almost every part of the body. 
Some of the major side effects include insensitivity to warning pain 
signals, lowered blood pressure, lowered pulse/respiration and 
confusion. A major danger is OVERDOSE, a risk only increased by 
unknown drug purity.

Signs of use include drooping eyelids, head nodding forward, slurred 
speech, walking and coordination slowed, pinpoint pupils and 
increased itching from dried out skin.

Unfortunately, acute withdrawal symptoms are painful and seem so 
frightening that the fear of withdrawal becomes a greater trigger for 
continued use.

Be aware. Don't go down that road. Say No to Drugs.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake