Heroin Addiction

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  The chemical name for heroin is diacetyl morphine.  For many years this substance remained an unidentified by-product derived during the refinement of pure morphine from raw opium {thus the name, "junk"}.

The substance was identified (in the 1870's) by a German researcher named Heinrich Dreser, who convinced his medical colleagues that it might be useful for "diverting" morphine addicts from their compulsive craving.  (At thetime, morphine addiction was a relatively moderate  social problem.)  Dreser's reasoning led to one of the biggest blunders in medical history:  Although morphine, itself, is an extremely potent analgesic, heroin is 2.5 times stronger in its overall effect and it induces a far more compulsive addiction than any other narcotic known to medical science.

The news and other informational media usually refer to heroin as a drug, which is technically accurate, but tends to obscure the fact that heroin is also a Deadly Poison!  While this insidious narcotic is approximately as poisonous as cyanide the two substances are not generally viewed in the same light because of one major difference:  A non-lethal dose of cyanide causes agonizing illness, but a non-lethal dose of heroin produces an intense feeling of physical euphoria, likened to an intense, prolonged sexual orgasm.   Anyone observing a heroin addict "nodding" (the stuperous, drooping trance that follows a "fix") is in fact witnessing the preliminary effect of a powerful poison on the central nervous system.

It is commonly known that the human organism develops an extremely high level of tolerance for most poisonous substances, if the substances are introduced in progressively increased doses.  This gradual process defines the mechanics of addiction to ANY CHEMICAL.  In most cases, an acquired tolerance to a substance is accompanied by a proportional dependency and craving.  The greatest peril connected with any such dependency is the absolute lack of responsible control over the quantity and quality of each successive dose that an addict uses several times each day.

In the language of the street drug trade, a "dime bag" (so called because of the $10 price that remained standard throughout the 60's and 70's) contains a sufficient amount of heroin to satisfy the average addict's craving for a few hours.  A "dime bag" is a small glassine envelope (such as used by stamp collectors") which contains approximately the same amount of fine white powder that a couple of pulverized aspirin tablets would yield (about one gram).  It is impossible by any means other than chemical analysis to determine exactly how much of the powder in a typical "dime bag" is pure heroin because the distributors "cut" it with milk sugar or a similarly benign diluting agent.

The average amount of heroin in a "dime bag" ranges between 10 and 30 milligrams.  If the envelope contained a full gram of pure, uncut heroin, such a dose would kill even a heavily addicted junkie as quickly as would the same amount of potassium cyanide.  Less than half that amount would have a similarly toxic effect on the intolerant organism of a non-user.

In the drug culture, a "hot shot" is a dime bag that contains either 100% pure (un-cut) heroin, or any of a variety of deadly chemical poisons, such as cyanide or a powdered rodenticide.  A "hot shot" is the reward that inevitably comes to an addict who informs on or otherwise offends a dealer (or in the case of someone like John Belushi-as a lesson to "the rest").  It is an established policy in the drug trade that any dealer will "hot shot" any junkie who informs on another dealer.  Even though the (wholesale) cost of a full gram of heroin is quite high, its use as an expedient "hot shot" is regarded as a business expense in this diabolical trade--a simple, convenient, fool-proof way to commit first degree homicide with virtually no chance of detection or prosecution.  Murders of this kind are common, but almost without exception are designated in coroner's reports, "Heroin O.D. (overdose),  apparently self-administered".  Thus a dope dealer holds Absolute Power of life or death over each of his customers.

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