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FROM POPPY TO HEROIN
The Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) can be found in a variety of forms, spread from the Equator to Southern Sweden. The concentration of alkaloids in them depends very much on the climate, the soil and the way of growing. Opium is made from the fruit capsules of the poppy. Right after the leaves fall, the capitulum is cut vertically or horizontally. A thick juice flows out of them, which turns in 24 hours into a dark resin - opium; it is scraped and gathered. Opium can be kept for years without losing its properties. For 1kg of opium even today about 2000 capitulums have to be processed, because of which opium is quite expensive. Nowadays the pharmaceutics industry can extract the alkaloids not from opium, but from dried poppy capitulums. This method is not only cheaper, but also in this way all the alkaloids are extracted. But it also requires sophisticated equipment. That's why the illegal preparation begins from opium; it is also more suitable for transportation, because even when it is small and light a lot of the necessary substance is contained. The seeds of poppy are found in the fruits' capsules. They are very much used in cooking; oil from poppy, which is used in painting is extracted from the seeds. The seeds of the poppy contain no alkaloids. So, they don't have the effect of the leaves.
From thousands of alkaloids, isolated from opium, definitely the most important is one is morphine. Its concentration is between 4 and 21 % (Bulgarian poppy has almost the highest concentration). Morphine has been created synthetically, but this is important only to science; all of the today's used morphine is extracted from Papaver somniferum. It is interesting to note that small amounts of morphine are contained in some plants we eat; traces of it are found in human and cow's milk. In opium other alkaloids are also found, among which the most important are codeine (0.8 - 2.5 %), narcotine (4 - 8 %), papaverine (0.5 - 2.5) and tebain (0.5 - 2 %).
One of the first synthetic drugs close to morphine, and definitely the most popular one, is heroin (diacetyl-morphine, diamorphine). It was known since 1874 and it is easily prepared. Heroin is a few times stronger than morphine. That's why all of the illegal morphine is processed to heroin. Nowadays the only country, where heroin is yet legally used as an analgesic (very well controlled), is Great Britain. Heroin (also H, junk, sugar, white stuff, boy, joy powder) is the main substance used by narcotic users. Also opium (O, black stuff, gum, tar) and morphine (M, MS, Miss Emma), codeine (cats, schoolboy), oxicodon, oximorphon and others are used. Although most of them are very weak, pharmaceutics companies prepare them, which means that at least they don't have any harmful admixture. Lately some absolutely synthetic products are sold; they are prepared illegally and aren't pure. This makes the problems for narcotic users even bigger.
The way from the mould with opium to the street's heroin is very long. The heroin, prepared in laboratories, has to pass 5 - 6 more stages until it can reach the user. Passing each of them, heroin gets more expensive and less pure. After all, the heroin sold to the users contains only about 5 % of real heroin. Pure heroin is white, but what is sold can be even brown in color. The main diluent of heroin in Europe and the USA is mannite or sorbit - this should show that they care about diabetic users but in some countries nobody thinks about this and powdered sugar, coffee and even talc are used. All these substances turn drugs on the streets into a mysterious mixture with unpredictable power and effects.
In drugs on the streets, quinine or another bitter substance is added, which has the goal "to lie" the buyer - in this way the drug acquires the taste of a strong heroin. Heroin, morphine, as well as the greater part of narcotics as a whole are unspeakably bitter, so it is impossible for a dealer to come to the absurd idea to put them into sweets and chewing gums with the goal to attract innocent children. Heroin is not very active when taken by mouth and it is really difficult to find someone, who, without disgust, to suck out a few milligrams of heroin daily for a few weeks - this is exactly what is needed for an addiction to be developed. This myth tells us about the professionalism of some journalists and fighters against narcotics.
The main way of taking heroin is injecting into the veins (mainlining); narcotic users can use more than a hundred veins and their knowledge about their positions are simply extraordinary. Sometimes heroin is taken together with cocaine (this cocktail is called speedball) or barbiturates, metaqualon, diazepam and so on. On rare occasions heroin is sniffed together with marihuana (this one is called "a bomb") or tobacco ("duster"). The dose of heroin starts from 2 to 10 mg and with the development of the addiction it can reach 500 mg daily; with morphine these numbers may come to a few times more. In the East traditional smoking of opium yet continues, although not as much as before. In fact, opium is not smoked in this traditional way - the pipe is heated up and the fume of the alkaloids of opium, are inhaled.