“Addictions, particularly heroin addictions, cross all socioeconomic classes, all ethnicities, rural, urban.”
~ Penny Legate, news media personality and parent of a child who died from a heroin overdose
In 2015, more than 200 people died from heroin overdoses in Washington State and more than 15,000 people checked into rehab and treatment programs (data from the Department of Health and the University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Institute).
Those numbers have risen annually five years in a row, causing some to use the word “epidemic” when referencing heroin use in Washington State.
It’s time to educate yourself, and your family, about two types of heroin.
According to drugabuse.gov, heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug processed from morphine–a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants.
Heroin is typically sold as a white or brownish powder that is “cut” with sugars, starch, powdered milk, or quinine.
Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste–it can be snorted or smoked and may be more appealing to new users because it eliminates the stigma associated with injection drug use.
Black tar heroin is sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal and is predominantly produced in Mexico and sold in U.S.
The dark color associated with black tar heroin results from crude processing methods that leave behind impurities. Impure heroin is usually dissolved, diluted, and injected into veins, muscles, or under the skin.
Why is heroin so addictive?
According to Inlander.com, Heroin binds to receptors in the brain (opiate receptors) that are designed to receive those chemicals. Our bodies also make natural opiates (endorphins) that fuse with opiate receptors.
Both endorphins and man-made opiates attach to the reward center in the brain to produce “feel good” vibes that are addictive. These reasons are why heroin is so addictive and extremely hard to quit.
National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that behavioral and medicinal treatments, individually or blended together, can help teens and adults kick the heroin habit.
One behavioral treatment plan involves rewarding users when they have negative drug tests—rewards may include things that encourage a healthier lifestyle. We think that’s a great plan!