|Derived From||Opium poppy plants|
|Ways Used||Injected, Snorted, Sniffed, or Smoked|
|Scientific Name||Diacetylmorphine (among others)|
|Slang/Street Names for Heroin||H, hell dust, smack, black eagle, black tar, black pearl, brown crystal, brown tape, brown sugar, brown rhine, dirt, diesel, golden girl, orange line, red rock, red eagle, red chicken, salt, spider blue, white stuff, white nurse, white junk, brain damage, hard stuff, hard candy, hell dust, holy terror, nice and easy, joy flakes, rush hour, sweet dreams, aunt hazel, big harry, dr. feelgood, helen, hazel, henry, hombre, nickel deck, big H, capital H, galloping horse, h caps, hero, horse, antifreeze, skag, tootsie roll, little boy, foil|
|Slang/Street Names for Heroin Mixtures|
|Length of Time in Body/Bloodstream||Typically two days, longer with regular usage|
|Punitive Legal Measures||Federal law states that the first offense of heroin possession may be sentenced to one year in prison and fined $5,000, and a second possession charge doubles both time spent and fines. If caught selling or manufacturing, the typical charge is 10-15 years in prison and between $25,000-$100,000 fine.|
|DEA Drug Rating||Schedule 1|
Like any other drug, various processing methods yield different forms of the same drug with varying potencies. Heroin has three primary forms that are ingested in distinct ways, as described below.
|Definition||Methods of Use||Potency|
|Brown||Also known as diamorphine base, brown heroin comes from the first stage of purifying diacetylmorphine.||Brown heroin is typically smoked because it burns at a lower temperature than other forms. Sometimes it is injected, but it needs an acid to become soluble in water.||Brown heroin falls between the other two forms, having a medium potency.|
|White||Also known as diamorphine hydrochloride, white heroin is the purest form but has a bitter taste and is the most complicated form to produce.||White, highly pure heroin can be snorted or injected. It has a higher burning temperature, so it is typically not smoked.||White heroin is the purest and therefore has the strongest potency of the forms.|
|Black Tar||“Black tar” heroin is sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal. The dark color results from crude processing methods that leave behind impurities, making it the cheapest form to create.||Black Tar is usually dissolved, diluted, and injected into veins, muscles, or under the skin.||Due to the crude processing, black tar heroin has the least amount of heroin in it.|
According to the U.N.’s 2016 World Drug Report, heroin has fewer total users than most other illegal drugs, but it has one of the highest death rates. While Heroin usage is on the rise in the U.S. (unlike every other area), the percentage of Americans that use the substance is still lower than most other areas of the world.
According to the UNODC 2016 study, heroin has the highest unemployment rate for illicit drugs at 35%. The second highest unemployment rate is among crack cocaine users at 26%. According to a RAND study, the high level of unemployment is further complicated by the cost of heroin. Regular users spend at least $17,500 on heroin per year, compared to the second most expensive addiction, cocaine, at $10,600.
SAMHSA’s 2014 NSDUH study reported that over 4.8 million Americans had tried heroin at some point in their lives, and the average age of first use was 28 years old. They also estimate that over 200,000 people used heroin for the first time in 2014.
Heroin use has been steadily rising since 2007. Some argue that the rising figures are due to a surge of prescription drug addictions. Heroin is cheaper and more easily accessible, so it’s a recourse for people who can no longer get prescription drugs.
According to a 2013 study by NSDUH and SAMHSA, 4% of people who misused prescription opioids used heroin within five years, but when looking at heroin users as a whole, nearly 80% reported first overusing prescription opioid painkillers. This data shows that most people who abuse prescription painkillers do not transition to heroin, but most heroin users were first addicted to prescription opioid painkillers.