Heroin is an illegal drug classified as a schedule 1 narcotic. Schedule 1 narcotics such as heroin, are the most controlled substances and are illegal to possess. Heroin is considered to be one of the most psychologically and physically addictive drugs known. It is produced using the poppy plant and is a derivative of morphine. Pure heroin is a white powder substance that has a bitter taste, but it can be found ranging from white to dark brown. Black tar heroin is a form of heroin that is extremely sticky, similar to roofing tar or may have the consistency of hard coal and may be black or brown in color. There are several ways that heroin is ingested by the user. It can be smoked with tobacco, heated on tin foil which is know as "chasing the dragon", snorted, or injected just below the skin's surface known as "skin popping" or directly into a vain known as "mainlining". The majority of heroin addicts tend to inject the drug.
Heroin is produced in a wide verity of colors and strengths. The varying colors of heroin are due to the additional substances that it is cut with. Many illicit drugs are "cut" or diluted to provide more profit for the drug dealer while decreasing the purity to the user. It is important to know that many drugs, such as heroin are cut with harmful poisons. This in turn is one reason why there are many deaths due to drug overdose, the user can never predict the strength of the drug they just bought. An example of what brown heroin might be cut with include: cocoa powder, brown sugar, or face makeup. White heroin might be cut with milk powder or procaine. There are several ways that heroin is packaged and sold to the "retail" user. One way is that it is enclosed in packets of wax paper envelopes known as bindles. Another way is that the heroin is put inside gelatin capsules. Lastly, it many be sold in small balloons or plastic zipper baggys.
The purity level of any one baggy of heroin can vary drastically. In the not so distant past heroin purity levels averaged around 8%. This has changed dramatically during the mid 90's when heroin purity levels rose to an estimated 40-50%. With such an increase in purity, many new heroin users have begun to snort the drug rather than injecting it as it was usually done. This has lead to a larger percentage of the population trying heroin by snorting it. Many of these new users would not have considered even trying the drug due to the stigma attached with using needles. Now with their risk of contracting any one of the numerous life threatening diseases associated with sharing needles many have taken the plunge into heroin and all the horrors that are associated with it.
Heroin produces feelings of euphoria and drowsiness in the user. Additional sensations created by heroin include: breathing dramatically slows, arms and legs feel weighted, their skin begins to itch and feel warm, their mouth gets drug, heartbeat slows, pupils constrict, and they occasionally feel sick (as if they want to vomit). When injected intravenously the user experiences what is considered to be the fastest and best "high" from heroin. The high that the user feels takes place within only 7 to 8 seconds after injection and up to 10-15 minutes after inhaling or smoking heroin.
All of the heroin available in the United States is brought here from either Colombia, Southeast Asia (primarily Burma), Mexico, Southwest Asia and the Middle East (primarily Afghanistan). South American heroin produced in Colombia is typically found in metropolitan areas of the Northeast and along the East Coast. Mexican heroin is usually found in the Midwestern, southwestern, and western United States. Practically all the heroin that is produced in Mexico is destined for the United States. Southeast Asian heroin is found mainly in the Northeast and along the East Coast. Southwest Asian heroin which is usually consumed in Western Europe, Pakistan, and Iran but can be found in the United States. An extremely large seizure of Southwest Asian heroin was in New York is May of 2000.