Select Page

How to Make a Dangerous Drug Even More Deadly: Common Contaminants in Heroin

Over 15,400 deaths occurred in 2015 due to heroin overdose, and numbers continue to rise. Heroin is cheap, easy to acquire and in abundant supply. It is an opioid drug derived from morphine. It can be injected, sniffed, or smoked and hits the opioid receptors in the brain very quickly to give users a rush of euphoria. It is also deadly, even more so when contaminated with chemicals, metals or other contaminants.

Heroin is not just a drug for street people. The insidious siren call can still be heard after many years of sobriety. Many well-known people with plenty of money to acquire any drug have fallen victim to it. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, was a dedicated family man, Oscar-winning actor and former heroin addict who had been sober for over 20 years when he was found dead of an overdose of heroin mixed with several other drugs in 2014.

Other Drugs

Mixing other drugs with heroin has become commonplace. Fentanyl, an opioid pain reliever, is 100 times stronger than morphine. It has also been linked to many overdose deaths from home-made fentanyl that was added to heroin, sometimes without the knowledge of the user. In only one year, deaths from illegally made fentanyl increased by almost 50%. The CDC has reported that the number of heroin deaths is growing due to the combination with fentanyl.

Antidepressants or benzodiazepines have also been combined with heroin in recent years to a fatal end. Antidepressants like Ativan, Klonapin or Xanax are sometimes used to treat alcohol addiction and are addictive by themselves. When combined with opioids, it can become deadly as both opioids and benzodiazepines can depress the central nervous system causing respiratory failure. Unfortunately, when addicts are taking one drug like an antidepressant, they may unwittingly overdose when they later use heroin.

Heroin mixed with cocaine or methamphetamine is known as speedball. It is attractive to users who are looking for an intense high. The stimulant counteracts the depressive effects of the opioid, which sometimes makes it difficult to determine that an opioid overdose is happening. Since a high produced from methamphetamine use lasts much longer than heroin, respiration and heart rates can skyrocket once the heroin wears off.

 

Miscellaneous Powders

There are many other common heroin adulterants. From dried milk to “Rizzy powder,” a toxic substance used to color plants, and from talcum powder to laundry detergent, contaminated heroin can have anything added to increase their profit. Corn starch, crushed painkillers and rat poison have also been found to be mixed into heroin. Besides causing illness or even death, these substances have been linked to a condition where the skin of the users’ arms turns black with necrosis.

 

Toxic Metals and Bacteria

Another unpleasant surprise ingredient in black tar heroin is dirt. The soil has been found to contain spores that are related to the same bacteria that causes botulism, a potentially deadly form of food poisoning. When injected, this bacteria can cause severe infection and may halt breathing, causing death. Using overdose treatments will not help counteract the bacteria’s effects.

When users burn heroin on a piece of aluminum foil to breathe the fumes, it is called “chasing the dragon.” Addicts have been found to have elevated levels of aluminum in their urine from the use of heroin in this manner. Aluminum acts as a neurotoxin in the body. Alzheimer’s disease has also been speculated to be related to exposure to aluminum, although it has not been proven yet.

If you or a family member is suffering from heroin addiction, help is available. Call Clean Recovery Centers at 1.888.330.2532 now. Find out how you can recover and live a joyful life without drugs.

 

Sources

Recent Posts

Epigenetics and Withdrawal

Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious problem that affects families, communities, and society as a whole. Certain genetic, social, and environmental factors make some individuals more likely to develop addictions than others. Specifically, how genetics and...

Identifying and Preventing Substance Abuse in the Workplace

When an individual engages in substance abuse, it affects every facet of life from personal to professional. Studies show that most drug users are employed, and the drug use does not stop between the hours of 9 to 5. Drug abuse in the workplace is a problem on a...

Elderly Drug Addiction

Drug and alcohol addiction and abuse in the elderly population is an often overlooked or underestimated issue. It’s a growing one, though, as people are living longer and medical practices including increased access to medication and more prescriptions being doled out...

Short and Long Term Effects of MDMA Abuse

What Is MDMA?MDMA or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine is a synthetic drug originally intended to help medications designed for controlling bleeding to synthesize. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was commonly used in psychotherapy, though there were no long-term studies...

PRESS RELEASE: Clean Recovery Centers Welcomes Stephanie Safos-Moriarty as Clinical Director

Clean Recovery Centers Welcomes Stephanie Safos-Moriarty as Clinical Director FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASETampa, FL, June 17, 2021 – Taylor Weil, Executive Director of Clean Recovery Centers, announced today that Stephanie Safos-Moriarty has joined the staff as its new...