Effects Of Heroin

Effects Of Heroin

Michael Jourdan (Drug Researcher) gives expert video advice on: What are the psychological effects of heroin?; How does heroin affect the human body?; How do opioids like heroin affect the central nervous system? and more...

What are the psychological effects of heroin?

I think answer on that question is very hard because it depends who you ask, has user, if you get one answer if you get to biochemist or neurologist they might ask it say something different but I think I prefer listening to the user to answer this and most people would describe that all according to dose if they take high doses of it they get a sensation that they like, it's a buzz and they come back for more over and over. Others will take it to calm and to take away pain in their lives basically they self medicate and for them it's not so much a question of getting a buzz and this is having a filter between themselves and the hurt they feel in the world and makes life parable so free.

How does heroin affect the human body?

The effects of heroin on the human body are complex. But let's set one thing straight right away. And that is: most people, when they see a heroin addict, see someone who is very miserable; and they attribute that to the looks of whoever they have in focus - on him or her - taking that drug. Now, it's more complicated than that. Because most people who take heroin use a lot of money to take that heroin, and they don't use a lot of money for food, for housing, for health, and for spas and whatever, so they disintegrate. Their health disintegrates, but it's not because of the heroin they take, it's because of the lives they live. Heroin as such is a depressant, and it can depress your respiratory system to the degree where you don't inhale air anymore, and that's what you die from - that's the overdose risk of taking heroin. But it's not toxic in the way that we think with regard to poisons. You can't take a poison and be healthy afterwards; it will destroy something in your body. Now in that respect, heroin isn't toxic. It doesn't destroy anything in your body, and if you stick to pure heroin and don't mix it up with all sorts of other stuff, and alcohol and so on. One of the big revelations for me with regards to the toxicity of heroin was talking to people who examine dead bodies - cut them up - and see whether there had been any harm or what would be the cause of death. And I was surprised to hear that heroin doesn't harm anything in your body - not the tissue, not the blood, not the organs. I thought otherwise. I thought something would be actually wrong.

How do opioids like heroin affect the central nervous system?

Well the nervous system has many functions. It tells us about whether something is hot or cold. And it helps us move. It's a signalling apparatus from one part of the body to the other part of the body. Heroin has the affect of not really speeding up those processes. And if you perhaps are sick and you are also taking heroin, you might not really hear that signal. It's sort of numbed that signal, which means that one of the dangers about taking heroin is you might not react when you really should. You might not go to a doctor because the pain that the body sends, you don't really respond to it. You don't hear it. It's numbed.

How long do the effects of heroin last?

Heroine is a very quick acting drug. Not as quick as cocaine, for instance. But one always tries to get at it by saying "what's the half life of it?", "How long of a time does it take until there is only half left?" Basically Heroine will last 6-8 hours and then you're done. You have broken down what was in your body and you need more if you pursue the effects.

Is there a high risk of overdose with heroin?

Heroin is a drug that has to be administered very precisely. Not all drugs are like that; sometimes they have a very big ratio between what's safe and what's unsafe. Heroin has to be administered very precisely and that makes it a tricky drug. It also makes it essential that you know what your tolerance is, how much you yourself can take, and it also makes it even more essential that you know the dosage, the purity of what you take. And that's not the case with street heroin. Street heroin is cut; it's diluted by people who do so to make more money. And they don't even know what the concentration it was before they diluted it. So, you never know what you're taking and that makes it risky to use street heroin.

What are the long-term side effects of heroin use?

Well the long-term side effects, if you use pure heroin, aren't really what you would place in the pharmacological category. The long-term effect is the deterioration that it will cause to your economy, to your social life, and to other aspects that has more to do with non-pharmacological properties of heroin. It has to do with the legal and status that this drug has, and what it will do to you to use it even though it's illegal.

What are heroin withdrawal symptoms like?

Heroin withdrawal symptoms are difficult to put in one category because, again, it depends how much you've been taking; it depends on your tolerance, how that has built up; and it varies very much from person to person. We've all seen Hollywood movies of what going "cold turkey" is about and those are grossly misrepresenting what most people experience, but it will install the expectation that getting off Heroin is a very terrible thing. Now most people just experience a flu ... a mild flu or a heavy flu ... and it will take two, three days, and they'll get through it, and that's it. Some people don't experience anything at all. It was a complete mirage to go through those so-called withdrawal symptoms. Others fare heavily through the withdrawal phase, and particularly if they've been using a host of drugs together with the Heroin. That is going to put them into hard times.

What happens when heroin is mixed with other drugs?

Well, cutting up heroin is done to make more money, basically. People cut the heroin to dilute it. They'll use whatever is at hand. There are probably around 50 substances that have been used, some are critical and some are not. It could be milk powder, it could be talcum, it could be, in the worst cases, rat poisoning or something like that. Whatever is white and will mix into it will be done by some unscrupulous persons. Most will just use something which is not harmful and cheap and available.

What is a 'speedball'?

Well, some addicts really, or some drug users--they need not be addicts--some drug users want "bang for the buck" and will want both an upper and a downer, and use all sorts of combinations, and this "speedball" is a particular combination of using both heroin and cocaine at the same time. Now, some like the effects of that. Well, I say any combination of drugs always heightens the risks considerably, because there is such a thing as "cross effects" that you need not necessarily know in advance. Now, the most common thing to combine is alcohol and some other drugs. And alcohol is quite dangerous to combine because it potensates the effects of whatever drug you take besides alcohol in unforeseeable ways. And sometimes that can kill you, even though the doses are minor of both drugs, but the combination effects of those two drugs together will actually make up a great health hazard.

Why do heroin users have a greater risk of contracting HIV or AIDS?

or other agency and then you're a qualified, and registered medical marijuana patient in A heroin user shouldn't really have a higher risk of contracting HIV, AIDS or hepatitis or anything else. Many people make the mistake of thinking that people contract these viruses due to the drug intake. It's like the drug is bearing HIV virus, that's not the case, not at all. They contract HIV and AIDS because they share needles basically. Because the intake of the drug is not done in a hygienic way and they do not take the drug safely, that's why they're smitten by these diseases.

How do you study the effects of heroin on people?

Most scientific studies are not allowed to do experiments with human beings. That was the case in concentration camps, but you can't really allow that. A lot of our knowledge stems from informal accounts, from people who use heroin. Now, in the later years we've had heroin trials in which heroin was prescribed in a legal setting to people, and that changed the whole access to that kind of knowledge, because you would also ask people were inside the heroin trials how they felt, what it did to them, and so on, and that has provided researchers with new knowledge.