We have established that there is a serious heroin problem in Hendricks County, and we've continued the conversation to learn why people use heroin, who uses it, and our need to eliminate the stigma of drug addiction.
Now let's educate ourselves about drugs.
I've added a page to They're Our Kids with lots of resources about alcohol and drug addiction, prevention, treatment and recovery. Click here to check it out. It's an ongoing work-in-progress, so feel free to contact me about anything you'd like to see added to the page.
Now I'd like to provide some information that I hope Villagers find helpful about individual drugs. I'll start with heroin and work my way through other common drugs in future blog posts.
***WARNING: Graphic images ahead.***
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an opioid. It's synthesized from morphine, which occurs naturally in the Asian opium poppy seed.
Where Does Heroin Come From?
Plainfield Police Sergeant Todd Knowles stated in a public forum on October 28, 2015, that most heroin that reaches our area of the country comes from Mexico, where poppy plants are able to grow.
What Does Heroin Look Like?
Most commonly, heroin appears in a white or brown powdery substance. It can also appear as a black sticky substance that is referred to as "black tar heroin."
Heroin is sometimes mixed with other substances to enhance or alter the effects of its use. Heroin mixed with cocaine is commonly called a "speedball" or "powerball."
Heroin can be mixed with fentanyl -- an opiate that is about 100 times more powerful than morphine -- to amplify the effects of its use. Heroin mixed with fentanyl is suspected to be behind 74 overdoses in a 72-hour span in Chicago in early October of 2015.
Heroin (and other opioid) overdoses can be temporarily countered by a drug called Naloxone (brand name Narcan). Medical professionals and first responders often carry Naloxone, and it is now available to Hoosiers via prescription. In some states, Naloxone is available over-the-counter at CVS.
What Do Users Call Heroin?
Like most drugs, heroin goes by a number of slang terms, including:
How is Heroin Used?
Most commonly, heroin is injected in the veins of arms, legs, groin, between toes, between fingers and/or on the neck. The effects of the drug are felt immediately, with a rush of euphoria lasting around 10 to 20 minutes. The heroin "high" can then last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
Less commonly, heroin is smoked and the fumes inhaled through glass pipes, thin metal pipes, straws or off aluminum foil pieces including gum wrappers.
Rarely, heroin is snorted through the nose using straws or rolled up currency.
What are Signs of Heroin Use?
Some physical signs of heroin use include:
Some behavioral signs of heroin use include:
What Do I Look For?
Parents are more likely to find drug paraphernalia than actual heroin itself. Look in bathrooms, the kid's bedroom, and anywhere else where a person can gain privacy. Heroin paraphernalia includes:
Another great place to look is inside any purple Crown Royal bags that you find in your kid's room or with his/her belongings. In my years as a probation officer, I found all sorts of contraband inside Crown Royal bags. Cigar boxes and zipped-up cases are another good place to look.
How Long Does Heroin Stay in a Person's System?
Heroin has a very short half-life, generally only being detected through typical urine drug screens for 1-2 days. The ability to detect heroin in urine depends on a number of different factors, so this is just a general estimate.
If you wish to test your kid for heroin, make sure to purchase a drug screen that tests for opiates/opioids, such as this one.
(Sources: Nancy Luckett / Into the Light Recovery, National Institute on Drug Abuse, AddictionBlog.org, DrugFreeWorld.org, personal experience as a former probation officer)
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