Heroin, Diacetylmorphine, C21H23NO5, M 369 g/mol
Heroin is derived by acetylating of morphine with acetic acid. It was manufactured for the first time 1898 in Germany for the treatment of morphine-addicted, since it was erroneously accepted that it produced no physical dependence, see opiates.
Heroin belonged to the so-called "hard" drugs and is usually injected. Heroin leads to physical dependence with tolerance increase and strong withdrawal symptoms when setting off. Overdoses can lead to deaths (breath depression). Injection-conditioned Hepatitis C or AIDS infections are possible, especially by "needle sharing".
The clear proof of a heroin consumption takes place by GC/MS-analysis of blood and urine samples via proofing morphine and the heroin-specific metabolite monoacetylmorphine (MAM), which is not formed from morphine or codein applications. Long time consumption can be proofed by hair analysis.
As stretching agents for heroin Paracetamol, acetylsalicylic acid, ascorbic acid (vitamine C) and caffeine are often used. Scene names are among others "H", "Shore", "Mat", "material", "poison", "Age", "brown". The mixture of heroin and cocaine is called "speed ball".
As a lipophilic substance heroin can passe the blood-brain barrier and penetrate into the brain. There it is hydrolized via the intermediate monoacetylmorphin (MAM) to morphine which docks at the specific opiate receptors in the brain, thus triggering the desired "kick".
The dosage depends very strong on habituation which induces tolerance effects. While only 50 mg heroin could be an overdose for a first time user a dependant can take up amounts up to 3.000 mg per day.
Under the designation Cheese a strongly with pain-killers and tranquilizers stretched heroin is sold in the USA. Cheese is not injected, but nasal uptaken. It found large acceptance, in particular with children and young people. Some fatal death cases were already reported.