Heroin: What you need to Know

Diacetylmorphine, the pure form of heroin, is a white powder derived from chemical substances found in the opium poppy plant. It is 2-3 times more potent than morphine and highly addictive. It is usually a white or brownish powder that can be injected intravenously, smoked, snorted, as a suppository, or orally ingested.

Diacetylmorphine is usually “cut” with other substances; some are harmless, like sugar or powdered milk, but it can be cut with poisons like fentanyl and carfentanyl that are deadly to an unsuspecting user. This diluted version of diacetylmorphine—heroin—is also known by common street names like White China, Smack, Big H, Black Tar, Chiva, Skag, Junk, Brown Sugar, Skunk, White Horse, and Thunder.

Common opiates (codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, methadone, morphine, tramadol, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and tapentadol) are available by prescription for pain relief, but heroin possession comes with serious criminal penalties and has no medical benefits.

After injection, the user experiences a sense of euphoria followed by alternating states of wakefulness and drowsiness. Mental functioning is also clouded, along with nausea, respiratory depression, and constricted pupils. The signs of an overdose include:

  • slow and shallow breathing
  • hypotension
  • blue lips and nails
  • muscle spasms
  • convulsions
  • coma
  • possible death

Heroin overdose is a medical emergency that requires naloxone for revival! Contact your local emergency services immediately if you observe these symptoms of overdose.

With frequent use, the abuser builds a tolerance to the drug and needs increased amounts of heroin to achieve the same euphoric effects. This results in physical dependence and addiction. Decreased use or withdrawal from the drug can cause drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting, and other symptoms.

Heroin is a fast-acting drug that is expelled from the body fairly quickly. Detection through saliva is only possible in the first 5 hours after use; blood, in the first 6 hours after use. Urine testing is most common, where heroin is detectable for up to 7 days. Hair tests can detect heroin usage for up to 90 days post-use. 

As an employer, you have the legal right to test all your employees before hire and at any time during employment if you have reasonable suspicion that your employee is using heroin. If you, other supervisors, or employees notice changes in a fellow employee, take action immediately through Nationwide Drug Testing Services. We offer affordable and reliable tests with quick results and convenient testing locations.

Call today to schedule an appointment or order online!