site map
angry
curious
worried
user
sick
bored
blog

Letters from February 2003

Question

Never before have I ever used any kind of drug to serve as a coping mechanism for daily life. At one point, when life got really tough and I was confronted by a crisis, I learned about opioids. Very soon after I started using heroin, and before long I was a full-fledged junkie.

I was 29 at that time. I was a college graduate with a great job and a great life. If you had told me a year ago when I started using, I'd have told you that you were crazy. I'm 30 now and there is no place on earth I'd be surprised to find myself at 31.

I want my life back and detox facilities seem to provide only for a short time following detoxification. I want my life back.

Answer

You're playing our song. What's more, you are exactly the kind of user I had in mind when I wrote Heroin User's Handbook. More than any other drug user, the heroin user needs information. This is because it is so easy to get a physical dependence on it. Nothing will help the compulsive personality, of course. But most heroin addicts don't have compulsive personalities. I have heard far too many times, "I never had any problems with a drug until I started using heroin."

The problem these people had was not that the effect of heroin was so great that they had to do it again and again. Heroin is not that reinforcing. But a long weekend of using can create a minor dependence. When not using, minor withdrawal symptoms appear. This very often leads to more use, causing worse withdrawal, causing even more use, until the mother of all addictions has taken hold.

For those who can't control their desires--a small percentage of the population--only lack of availability will help. This is not an option, however. After one hundred years of the most authoritarian measures imaginable, the government can't even stop the drug trade in its prisons.

Now that you are addicted, what do you do? The first thing is to get calm. This isn't cancer, after all. The second thing is to see what your options are. The first issue is: high-priced fools or no-cost-fool.

I don't think much of paying someone a bunch of money to detox you (high-priced detox). It doesn't work any better than a do-it-yourself (no-cost detox) in most cases. There are cases when you must get medical help, however. These include any time you have physical problems. People suffering from high-blood pressure should have medical attention, for example. People with very high habits may want to employ professionals. People who have never been through a detox may want to hire someone. Don't be ashamed of getting professional help--just don't let them bankrupt you.

(It is funny that Jerry Garcia's death is usually attributed to a detox attempt. Garcia was dangerously over-weight and chain-smoked cigarettes. He would have been better off quitting smoking and exercising. Regardless, he had professional help and look what happened.)

Regardless what kind of detox you plan to use, spend some time lowering your heroin habit. The lower your heroin habit, the easier the detox will be. Mostly people do the opposite. They use a lot right before quitting because it is "the last waltz". This is a waste of time. It almost never is as wonderful as you were expecting. You might also try to change how you administer the drug. If you're IVing, see if you can start smoking instead

The details for a home detox are presented in detail in Heroin User's Handbook. It is far too much material to present here. I am, however, working on an over-view of the processes that I can put on the site.

But there is one issue that causes the most failure: time. You must give yourself enough time to detox. The intense period will last for about five days. But you will have much greater luck if you can manage to take a month off from work and other such responsibilities. By then you should be doing okay.

"Once a junkie, always a junkie" is not even a myth--it is a downright lie. If you are addicted to heroin, you can kick it. Millions have already done so.


Question

I have been struggling with this terrible internal conflict: I really want to try heroin (at least once, just for the experience and to see what it's like), but I don't know if it is worth the risk. Although I am relatively young (16 years) I consider myself to be fairly experienced and responsible when it comes to the use of psychoactives. I have tried Opium, Cocaine, Crack, LSD, MDMA(X) and a number of other "hard" drugs without experiencing any serious problems, such as addiction. But like you said in your website, heroin is the "hardest" of the "hard" drugs. It's the one drug that most drug users won't go near. I have some friends who have used heroin, one of whom has become a regular user and is not doing very well at all. Although I do not seem to have an "addictive personality" and I am very eager to see what this "wonder-drug" is like, I am aware of the dangers that come along with experimenting with a drug like that. I realize that you were once a user and you were obviously able to handle it. I also realize that most people are not so lucky. Please, if you have any words of advice for me it would be very much appreciated. I know that the decision will ultimately be up to me, but I will take what you say into serious consideration. Please respond soon. I am not sure whether or not I should pass up the next opportunity I get to try it, or if I will be able to, for that matter. Please help, Dr. H.

Answer

You should not be doing recreational drugs because your body (which includes your brain) is still developing at a fast pace. Drugs screw that up. Drugs are for old people who are effectively dead, anyway. You need to fix all the problems my generation created. Okay, enough preaching. I will answer your question.

Without getting into the chemistry of it, the "active ingredient" in heroin is exactly the same as in opium: morphine. If you have tried opium, you've tried heroin.

Very few junkies have addictive personalities. The problem with heroin is that it only takes a couple of days to become physically dependent upon it. So the addict isn't continuing to use because he is so crazy about the experience; he's continuing to use so he won't be in pain.

In this time and place, stay as far away as possible. That goes for opium too. And stay away from people who are becoming heroin addicts--they'll drag you with them. I say this all from experience. Remember: It is only people who haven't done it who think getting hit in the head with a hammer might be an interesting experience.

Be good.


Question

I see black tar heroin on TV. Can it be put in powder form? When I see it it looks like tar. What is the purity of black tar? Thanks.

Answer

Black tar heroin could be chemically altered into crystalline form. It is an involved process for a professional chemist and a lab. Purity of black tar heroin can run anywhere from 0% up into the high 80%. Purity is not a function of form.


Question

Is it possible to ingest heroin by eating it? Do you know if this is done and how long would it take before it took effect? And would overdose be possible?I am writing a novel and would really appreciated your help. Many thanks.

Answer

Yes, you can eat heroin. In fact, the first commercial heroin was in the form of cough-drops. Because of its chemistry, heroin is poorly absorbed in this way as discussed in Why Users Inject. Only about 15% is absorbed relative to the IV route.

You can certainly overdose eating heroin. In fact, it is easy in a way, because you can eat it for a long time before your body absorbs it--about a half-hour. It is kind of like a time-bomb.

Actually, check out Snopes. Look up the discussion of the poisoned trick or treat candy. There is a good true story in there related to it.


Question

I feel quite stupid asking this, but here it goes. I know heroin is cooked prior to injection, but what about smoking? I've never done heroin before and smoking seems like a good way to do it. But I wouldn't want to ask a dealer about something like that. In numerous online articles, it gives no mention of cooking prior to smoking or any very detailed procedure info. You seem like the best person to ask. Thanks in advance.

Answer

Smoking is probably the safest way to do it. The process is described in the article How to Smoke Heroin. More detail is given in my book Heroin User's Handbook.

Remember that heroin is still heroin regardless of how you do it. You can still OD. You can still become addicted. Are you sure this is something you really want to do? Heroin is a pro-drug--it delivers morphine to the brain, so it is no different than taking morphine. And it is 95% the same as Vicodin, Codeine, Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percodan®, etc.).

If you are determined to use, do it with someone. Most people who die, do so because no one was around to help. I would tell you the things to be careful about, but I've written two books and over 200 articles on the website dealing with that. It is a complex business. At least read the articles on sudden death. The more you know, the safer you will be.

Question

How long does it stay in your system for?

Answer

Heroin has a half-life of 2-3 minutes. It breaks down into morphine. Morphine has a half-life of about 3 hours, but longer if it came via heroin. Drug tests test for morphine, codeine, and metabolites. It can be detected in urine for anywhere from 3 to 10 days. You should read Problems with Urine Tests to start to understand the issues involved.

Question

I am on methadone. My dose started at 70 mg a day, and I am now down to 8 mg. The last time I used I was on 20 mg and I got real high. I am going to use again this weekend and was looking for info on my score (which i have been holding for a week now, talk about burning a hole in my pocket). The reason I am looking for info is that I had to go to a different person this time because my old connection is m.i.a. The stuff i got is brown and i was told to put citric acid (which he gave me) pellets into it to help it break down. This worries me as i have never had to do this before and don't like the thought of shooting anything acidic. Please give your thoughts.

Answer

First, what the hell are you using when your methadone dose is down so low? You're going to pay for this in another week.

I think dope that needs citric acid added is diacetylmorphine base as opposed to diacetylmorphine HCl. This is common. There is a story called Smack in the Middle of Israel where the writer did just that.

Question

Ok... Is there any way to reverse the effects of Naltrexone (i.e. making it possible to get high, get your sick off, etc.)? Does throwing it up work? I'm just wondering, I don't intend to do this. If I take Naltrexone, get sick, and do a dose will it take my sick off even though it won't get me high?

Answer

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

The things that I have done for the sake of journalism are frightening. I once took 25 mg of Naltrexone when I had a minor habit. Within 10 minutes my body felt like it was breaking apart. What appeared to be gallons of acid were exploding out my mouth and anus. (Luckily I was projectile vomiting so while sitting on the toilet I could vomit into the sink.) In addition to this, I was experiencing cold sweats and almost uncontrollable shaking.

At that point, it is extremely dangerous to use an agonist to off-set this: heroin, morphine, codeine, etc. Doing so can cause an overdose. What is happening is that the Naltrexone comes into your body, and rips the morphine (for example) from the receptor sites. The Naltrexone then sits there on the receptor but doesn't activate it. Adding more morphine makes you feel a little better, but lowers your respiration as usual.

And Naltrexone lasts a long time, unlike Narcan. Naltrexone is only to be used by people who are not dependent on opioids to keep them from using. Naltrexone breaks down into 6-beta-naltrexol; it too is an opioid antagonist. The termination half-lives of these two chemicals are 3 hours and 14 hours. Narcan is the drug used to help opioid overdose patients. Narcan has a half-life of 64 +/- 12 minutes.

These drugs should not be played with.

When an opioid addicted person accidentally takes an antagonist, there are a few options. If the error is noted right away, the stomach can be pumped or vomiting can be induced. Agonists can be applied, but they must be applied very little at a time so as not to cause an overdose. The victim could be given clonidine--this will help a great deal. However, it cannot be swallowed because no food can be kept down. Place the clonidine under the tongue; it will be slowly absorbed there.

by Dr. H © 2003
Last Modified: 14 January 2004


angry
curious
worried
user
sick
bored
blog