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Opioid used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Heroin, also known as diacetylmorphine and diamorphine among other names,[1] is a morphinan opioid substance derived from the dried latex of the Papaver somniferum plant and is mainly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. Medical-grade diamorphine is used as a pure hydrochloride salt. Various white and brown powders sold illegally around the world as heroin are routinely diluted with cutting agents. Black tar heroin is a variable admixture of morphine derivatives—predominantly 6-MAM (6-monoacetylmorphine), which is the result of crude acetylation during clandestine production of street heroin.[3] Heroin is used medically in several countries to relieve pain, such as during childbirth or a heart attack, as well as in opioid replacement therapy.[8][9][10]

Quick facts: Clinical data, Pronunciation, Other names, AH...
Clinical data
PronunciationHeroin: /ˈhɛrɪn/
Other namesDiacetylmorphine, acetomorphine, (dual) acetylated morphine, morphine diacetate, Diamorphine[1] (BAN UK)
Very high[2]
Very high[3]
Routes of
Intravenous, inhalation, transmucosal, by mouth, intranasal, rectal, intramuscular, subcutaneous, intrathecal
Drug classOpioid
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability<35% (by mouth), 44–61% (inhaled)[4]
Protein binding0% (morphine metabolite 35%)
Onset of actionWithin minutes[5]
Elimination half-life2–3 minutes[6]
Duration of action4 to 5 hours[7]
Excretion90% kidney as glucuronides, rest biliary
  • (5α,6α)-7,8-didehydro-4,5-epoxy-17-methylmorphinan-3,6-diol diacetate
CAS Number
PubChem CID
CompTox Dashboard (EPA)
ECHA InfoCard100.008.380 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass369.417 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • CC(OC1=C(O[C@@H]2[C@]34CCN(C)[C@@H]([C@@H]4C=C[C@@H]2OC(C)=O)C5)C3=C5C=C1)=O
  • InChI=1S/C21H23NO5/c1-11(23)25-16-6-4-13-10-15-14-5-7-17(26-12(2)24)20-21(14,8-9-22(15)3)18(13)19(16)27-20/h4-7,14-15,17,20H,8-10H2,1-3H3/t14-,15+,17-,20-,21-/m0/s1 checkY

It is typically injected, usually into a vein, but it can also be snorted, smoked, or inhaled. In a clinical context, the route of administration is most commonly intravenous injection; it may also be given by intramuscular or subcutaneous injection, as well as orally in the form of tablets.[11][3][12][13] The onset of effects is usually rapid and lasts for a few hours.[3]

Common side effects include respiratory depression (decreased breathing), dry mouth, drowsiness, impaired mental function, constipation, and addiction.[12] Use by injection can also result in abscesses, infected heart valves, blood-borne infections, and pneumonia.[12] After a history of long-term use, opioid withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of the last use.[12] When given by injection into a vein, heroin has two to three times the effect of a similar dose of morphine.[3] It typically appears in the form of a white or brown powder.[12]

Treatment of heroin addiction often includes behavioral therapy and medications.[12] Medications can include buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone.[12] A heroin overdose may be treated with naloxone.[12] An estimated 17 million people as of 2015 use opiates, of which heroin is the most common,[14][15] and opioid use resulted in 122,000 deaths.[16] The total number of heroin users worldwide as of 2015 is believed to have increased in Africa, the Americas, and Asia since 2000.[17] In the United States, approximately 1.6 percent of people have used heroin at some point.[12][18] When people die from overdosing on a drug, the drug is usually an opioid and often heroin.[14][19]

Heroin was first made by C. R. Alder Wright in 1874 from morphine, a natural product of the opium poppy.[20] Internationally, heroin is controlled under Schedules I and IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,[21] and it is generally illegal to make, possess, or sell without a license.[22] About 448 tons of heroin were made in 2016.[17] In 2015, Afghanistan produced about 66% of the world's opium.[14] Illegal heroin is often mixed with other substances such as sugar, starch, caffeine, quinine, or other opioids like fentanyl.[3][23]