I’ve written several posts about how prescription painkillers kill more Arizonans than heroin and cocaine combined- but heroin is still the No. 1 killer among the illegal drugs.   One hundred people died from a heroin overdose in AZ in 2013 (vs. about 1,000 from prescription drugs). 

Heroin is very addictive.  According to NIDA, about 23% of people that try heroin will become addicts.   Most addicts and new users mix the heroin with water and inject it into the bloodstream directly.  Injecting it basically eliminates any lag time- and the euphoric effects are almost immediate.  Heroin is sometimes smoked, snorted or eaten, but smoking or eating it mutes its effects. 

Once it’s in a person’s blood- the heroin turns into morphine.  Morphine is similar to endorphins…  which are chemicals that your body makes to halt pain and create a good feeling by inhibiting your neurons from firing.  The morphine binds to the opioid receptors in your brain.  The blocking of those opioid receptors creates a “high”.  Most people that die from a heroin overdose expire because their brain forgets to tell their body to breathe…  and they basically suffocate.