Heroin is made from the poppy plant. It is basically highly refined opium, hence “opioid.” It takes about 10 kilos of opium to make one kilo of heroin. Most heroin is not pure. The purity can vary widely depending on the available supply, the area of the country, and the specific dealer. The more links in the supply chain, the less pure the heroin. The purity can be as low as 3 percent or as high as 99 percent, although it’s usually somewhere in the vast space in between.
Heroin can be cut with anything that that sort of looks like heroin, that is, any whitish powder. What else is in heroin besides heroin is limited only by your imagination. Common substances include baking soda, sugar, starch, caffeine, talcum powder, powdered milk, detergent, crushed up over-the-counter medicines like aspirin, and rat poison.
Some of these ingredients, like rat poison, are clearly problematic. Even relatively innocuous substances can cause complications. Not all substances dissolve completely and you don’t want little clumps of mystery substance going around your circulatory system. Even substances that are intended for consumption, like sugar or powdered milk, are supposed to be broken down in the digestive system before entering the bloodstream. Free-floating particles in the bloodstream can clump together, causing heart attack or stroke.
If the substance is caffeine or some other stimulant, it could mask the symptoms of overdose and possibly delay getting help, leading to a greater chance of brain damage or death.
Heroin is sometimes laced with fentanyl. Pure fentanyl is so powerful it can kill you if it touches your skin. This is regarded by some addicts as a feature rather than a bug, as it increases the potency of the heroin. Sometimes the fentanyl is added by the dealer and sometimes by the users themselves. Shooting heroin laced with fentanyl drastically increases the risk of overdose.
Many other substances may be found in heroin too. It is sometimes cut with mannitol, which is a laxative–convenient, because heroin makes you constipated. Heroin sometimes spontaneously decomposes into monoacetylmorphine, which is similar to the opioid painkiller hydrocodone. The malaria drug quinine is sometimes found in low quality heroin. It can cause blindness and increase risk of overdose. Dextromethorphan, or DXM, a common ingredient in cough medicine is sometimes added to heroin to cause euphoria and hallucinations. At high doses it can cause psychosis.
The bottom line is that you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Ironically, one of the most dangerous possibilities is that the heroin will be too pure. If you or someone you love is addicted to heroin or other opioids, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We can make detox as painless as possible and get you started in recovery. Call us today at 844-325-9168 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.