Pure heroin (diacetylmorphine) is a white powder with a bitter taste abused for its euphoric effects. Heroin, a highly addictive drug, is derived from the morphine alkaloid found in opium poppy plant (Papaver somniferum) and is roughly 2 to 3 times more potent than morphine. It is usually injected, smoked or snorted up the nose. It exhibits euphoric (“rush”), anti-anxiety and pain-relieving properties.
- Most illicit heroin is sold as a white or brownish powder and is usually “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine. It can also be cut with strychnine or other poisons. This is the form that is injected.
- Potent opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanyl have been found cut into heroin accessed on the streets, and can be deadly to the unsuspecting user.
- Another form known as “black tar” may be sticky, like roofing tar, or hard, like coal. Its color may vary from dark brown to black. This form is usually smoked or snorted.
- Because abusers do not know the actual strength of the drug or its true contents, they are at often risk of overdose or death.
- In the U.S., opium is rarely grown and cultivated, but is brought in from Latin American countries. Afghanistan is the capital of opium harvesting, producing roughly 75% of the world’s heroin supply.
Heroin is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, carries stiff criminal penalties, and has no acceptable medical use in the U.S.