In 1924, amidst a skyrocketing number of Americans experiencing legal, health and other issues caused by heroin use, Congress passed a law banning heroin manufacturing, distribution and importation. Since that time, the battle against heroin, and other illegal drug use, has raged on, culminating in what is now being called a public health crisis.
The opioid epidemic is in many ways driven by the millions of Americans currently misusing or addicted to prescription pain medications. The numbers of Americans misusing pain pills are in the tens of millions as of 2016. However, as those pain pills become more difficult, and more expensive, to obtain, some individuals begin to look to heroin as the solution. Less expensive than prescription medication and readily available, heroin is the solution to many experiencing debilitating withdrawals when unable to get the pills they need.
While some are driven to heroin because of an inability to access pain medication, others were exposed to it by friends or even family. It is much less scary to try something even as dangerous as heroin when people you trust are also doing it.
Heroin is known by many different names that vary greatly by geography and culture. Commonly known terms include Smack, Dope, Junk, Chiva, H, China White, Horse, Big H, Black tar, Mud, Skag, Brown Sugar and many more.
Heroin comes in 3 colors and two forms. The first version is black tar; a black, sticky substance known to be less pure and also less expensive than other forms of heroin. Powder heroin can be either brown or white depending on the area it is from and its purity level. White-powder heroin is the most refined and typically the most potent, though it can be combined or “cut” with other substances to make it go farther. Some distributors combine the heroin with poisons that can make it stronger and more likely to cause an overdose.
Heroin can also be purchased, or used, in combination with other drugs, which increases the danger of experiencing an overdose. Using heroin and cocaine together is a common practice, but the combination of heroin and other central nervous system depressants such as benzodiazepines or alcohol is the most hazardous. Each of these depressants suppresses the respiratory system and together, can cause an individual to stop breathing entirely.
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