Effects of chronic heroin

Published:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

ABSTRACT

As with most illegal drugs, the chronic use of heroin possesses both long-term and short-term effects. Whether injected, snorted or smoked, heroin will begin to affect the body's central nervous system almost immediately after it is used. This report aims to analyse these effects of chronic heroin use and the concept of building up tolerance to heroin with reduced effectiveness of the drug.

INTRODUCTION

Heroin, or diacetylmorphine is also commonly referred to as diamorphine, it is a semi-synthetic opioid drug synthesized from morphine, a derivative of the Asian opium poppy plant (NIDA, 2009). It is the 3,6-diacetyl ester of morphine (di (two)-acetyl-morphine). The white crystalline form is commonly the hydrochloride salt diacetylmorphine hydrochloride, though often adulterated thus dulling the sheen and consistency from that to a matte white powder, which however heroin freebase typically is.

As with other opioids, heroin is used as both a pain-killer and a recreational drug and has an extremely high potential for abuse. Frequent and regular administration is associated with tolerance, moderate physical dependence, and severe psychological dependence which develops into addiction.

According to Kreet et al (2005) opiates are drugs derived from the resin or sap of the opium poppy, which include "morphine, codeine, their congeners (e.g., heroin and oxycodone), and other semi-synthetic derivatives of the-baine". These opium-derived drugs are branded as opioids or narcotic analgesics. Opioids consist of all agonist drugs, which possess morphine-like properties, whether they are naturally occurring or synthetic (made).

Other drugs in the opioid class include pethidine and methadone, which are synthetically manufactured. Heroin is a central nervous system depressant, which means it slows down the workings of the brain and spinal cord. It is mixed or 'cut' with other substances, such as glucose, to boost profits. This means the user has no idea if the dose will be strong or weak. Heroin usually takes the form of granules or powder, and can be white, pink or brown. It is usually injected intravenously, but some users snort or smoke it instead. Common slang terms for heroin include 'smack', 'horse' and 'hammer'.

Dependent heroin users are characterised by the persistence of use in spite of the difficulties they experience with health, law, social achievements and personal relationships (Ferri et al, 2003).

THE PHARMACOLOGY OF HEROIN

Heroin (diacetylmorphine) is rapidly hydrolysed to 6-monoacetylmorphine which in turn is hydrolysed to morphine following intravenous administration in humans (Goodman & Gilman, 1991). The blood concentration of morphine, the metabolite of heroin, depends on route of administration, drug dose, body weight, time elapsed since the last dose and individual pharmacokinetics (Aderjan et al, 1995). Heroin is mainly excreted in the urine as free and conjugated morphine.

Cardinal signs of heroin toxicity include reduced level of consciousness from drowsiness or a stuporous state to coma, pinpoint pupils and a depressed respiratory rate. Cyanosis, hypotension, bradycardia, hypothermia may also be present. Death is usually due to respiratory failure (Goodman & Gilman, 1991).

EFFECTS OF CHRONIC HEROIN USE ON THE BRAIN

OTHER EFFECTS OF CHRONIC USE.

Central nervous system:

  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Delirium

Neurological:

  • Analgesia
  • Tolerance
  • Addiction (Physical Dependence)

Psychological:

  • Addiction (Psychological Dependence)
  • Anxiolysis
  • Confusion
  • Euphoria
  • Somnolence

DECREASED EFFECTIVENESS- BUILDING UP TOLERANCE.

People who are physically dependent on heroin usually develop tolerance to the drug, making it necessary to take more and more to get the desired effects. Eventually, a dose plateau is reached, at which no amount of the drug is sufficient. When this level is achieved, the person may continue to use heroin, but largely for the purpose of delaying withdrawal symptoms

DISCUSSION

CONCLUSIONS

REFERENCES & BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • BADEN, M. M. (1971) Narcotic Abuse: A Medical Examiner's View, Legal Medicine Annual (New York, Appleton Century Crofts).
  • BALL, J. C. & Ross, A. (1991) The Effectiveness of Methadone Maintenance Treatment New York, Springer-Verlag. Pages 195-211.
  • Caplehorn, J.R.M., Dalton, M.S.Y.M., Cluff, & Petrenas, A.M. (1994) Retention in Methadone Maintenance and Heroin Addicts' Risk of Death. Addiction. Volume 89, Pages 203-207.
  • Chan, L.T.F., Prolov, T. and Verma, S.C.C. (1988) Morphine Tissue Concentrations in Fatal Cases in New South Wales, 1986-1987. Paper Presented at the 9th Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society Symposium, Brisbane.
  • Cherubin, C., McCusker, J., Baden, M., Kavaler, F. & Amsel, Z. (1972) The Epidemiology of Death in Narcotic Addicts. The American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 96. Pages 11-22.
  • Ferri, M., Davoli, M. and Perucci, C.A. (2003) Heroin Maintenance for Chronic Heroin Dependents. National Centre for Biotechnology Information. Cochrane Database System Retrieval. 2003; (4):CD003410.
  • Kreek, M.J., Bart, G., Lilly, C., Laforge, K.S. and D. A. Nielsen. (2005) Pharmacogenetics and Human Molecular Genetics of Opiate and Cocaine Addictions and Their Treatments. Pharmacological Review. March 1, 2005; Volume 57, Issue 1. Pages 1- 26.
  • Laulina, J. P., Célèriera, E., Larchera, A., Le Moala, M and Simonneta, G. (1999) Opiate Tolerance to Daily Heroin Administration: An Apparent Phenomenon Associated With Enhanced Pain Sensitivity.

WEBSITES

  • Chemical Structure of Heroin (2007). Available online at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heroin_-_Heroine.svg Accessed on 12th December 2009.
  • Heroin (2009) National Institute of Drug Abuse. Available online at: http://www.nida.nih.gov/infofacts/heroin.html Accessed on 12th December 2009.

Writing Services

Essay Writing
Service

Find out how the very best essay writing service can help you accomplish more and achieve higher marks today.

Assignment Writing Service

From complicated assignments to tricky tasks, our experts can tackle virtually any question thrown at them.

Dissertation Writing Service

A dissertation (also known as a thesis or research project) is probably the most important piece of work for any student! From full dissertations to individual chapters, we’re on hand to support you.

Coursework Writing Service

Our expert qualified writers can help you get your coursework right first time, every time.

Dissertation Proposal Service

The first step to completing a dissertation is to create a proposal that talks about what you wish to do. Our experts can design suitable methodologies - perfect to help you get started with a dissertation.

Report Writing
Service

Reports for any audience. Perfectly structured, professionally written, and tailored to suit your exact requirements.

Essay Skeleton Answer Service

If you’re just looking for some help to get started on an essay, our outline service provides you with a perfect essay plan.

Marking & Proofreading Service

Not sure if your work is hitting the mark? Struggling to get feedback from your lecturer? Our premium marking service was created just for you - get the feedback you deserve now.

Exam Revision
Service

Exams can be one of the most stressful experiences you’ll ever have! Revision is key, and we’re here to help. With custom created revision notes and exam answers, you’ll never feel underprepared again.