Opioids are a class of drugs that bind to opioid receptors in the brain and body, often reducing pain and providing a sense of euphoria. Opioid receptors serve a number of regulatory functions, including regulating sensory perception such as sight and hearing.
Some opioids are illegal, illicit substances while others are legal medications that are typically used for pain relief or as an anesthesia.
In January 2015 a report titled “The Prescription Opioid and Heroin Crisis: A Public Health Approach to an Epidemic of Addiction” was published. The report detailed the state of the growing opioid crisis, noting that as the use of opioid pain relievers (OPR) increased so did overdose deaths and the use of heroin.
The two are clearly connected, however, the connection is closer than many people realize.
Is Heroin an Opioid?
First let’s answer the question, is heroin a opioid? The answer is yes, heroin is an opioid. In fact, it’s one of the oldest types of opioids known to exist.
Many people are surprised to find that the first opioid addiction epidemic in the U.S. started 180 years ago. In the mid-1800s opium was widely used for a variety of ailments. Natural heroin compounds were first discovered in 1875. By 1895 chemists figured out how to synthesize the compounds into heroin. Then in 1898 Bayer & Co. began selling heroin as a pain reliever that was cheaper and more potent than morphine. The problem was heroin is also more addictive.
Unlike some other opioids, heroin is a Schedule I substance. That means it’s considered unsafe, has a high likelihood of misuse and no recognized medical use.
What Type of Opioid is Heroin?
Now that we’ve established the heroin opioid connection, let’s delve a little deeper into what type of opioid heroin is and how it’s different from other types of opioids. Heroin is a naturally-derived opioid that comes from the poppy plant. It’s created using morphine, a substance that naturally occurs in the seed pod of poppy plants.
Heroin is semisynthetic since the natural compounds are chemically modified. The end result is either a brown powder, white powder or sticky black tar. Heroin can be administered in a variety of ways. It can be injected, snorted or smoked.
Heroin is an extremely dangerous and detrimental drug. Many people begin using heroin after developing a dependency on another opioid or drug. If a heroin addiction isn’t treated, overdose and death is highly likely.
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