To get addicted to heroin is very easy: one or two weeks is enough. Getting rid of the addiction is a bit more difficult though, it takes at least three years of expensive and extremely arduous treatment.
Derived from opium and synthesized from morphine for the first time in a laboratory in 1898, it started to be considered a solution for the cure of morphine addicts. But later it was discovered that it is at least three times stronger than morphine itself, its manufacture then was banned all over the world.
Like any other drug derived from opium, heroin acts on the digestive and central nervous systems, where it causes numbness and dizziness, in the early stages there is a feeling of lightness and euphoria. As a central nervous system depressant, it relieves the feelings of pain and distress. There follows a state of lethargy that can last for hours. The first few doses may even cause nausea and vomiting. Then the symptoms cease for a while, but when the drug is no longer used it returns stronger.
The adverse effects are many. Heroin prevents the production of endorphins, natural painkillers of the body since the drug itself is in charge of providing it. The consequences cannot be worse: when the addict tries to suppress the drug, the body does not automatically return to produce the endorphins, causing a unceasable pain.
Heroin is extremely harmful because it “mimics” the effects of a substance synthesized in our organism. Opiates, such as morphine and heroin, act on the parasympathetic system, which in equilibrium with the sympathetic system influences decisively on human behavior. The first, with adrenaline, regulates the functions of attack and defense; and the second, with acetylcholine, the states of relaxation, drowsiness, and calm. Heroin acts exclusively on the parasympathetic system, replacing acetylcholine. As acetylcholine exerts less influence over the body, heroine eventually occupies its space in the organism; with increasing doses, it makes acetylcholine to be no longer produced.
That’s why the addict experiences such adverse effects after he decides to stop using the drug. His body cannot supply the need created by the use of heroin. After inhibiting the natural production of endorphins and acetylcholine, when the drug is discontinued the terrible symptoms of withdrawal syndrome occur. It’s so difficult to let go of the addiction that, even though it is life-threatening, the drug addict often opts for heroin.