Synthetic Heroin – Generally speaking, “synthetic heroin” is a term that can refer to any number of human-made prescription or illegal opioids. Fentanyl, a fully synthetic opioid much more powerful than heroin, is another drug that is commonly referred to as synthetic heroin.
Opioids are a class of drugs that includes both natural opiates derived from the poppy plant, such as opium, as well as those that are semi-synthetic, such as oxycodone.
Opioids are lawfully available in the U.S. by prescription only and are primarily used to treat pain. There are only a few natural opiates currently used in medical settings, including morphine. Opium was once employed for medical purposes but is no longer used in clinical environments. Morphine and codeine are both controlled substances in the U.S., meaning that they can only be obtained by a licensed physician.
Heroin, which is illegal and not approved for any medical purpose, is among the most commonly abused opioids. Heroin is produced from morphine and synthesized. Once administered, it is converted back to morphine in the brain, where it attaches to opioid receptors.
Fentanyl and Carfentanil
As noted, one example of synthetic heroin is fentanyl, and another is it’s even more potent cousin, carfentanil. Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller believed to be up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Fentanyl was first introduced as a treatment for pain for palliative care, but it’s since become one of the most commonly used and abused synthetic opioids.
Although people may use fentanyl intentionally for the potent and rapid effects it can deliver, they may also use it accidentally. For example, it is often combined with heroin or sometimes marketed as an entirely different drug. This trend has resulted in many overdose deaths in recent years, and even a small amount of fentanyl can result in life-threatening effects.
Carfentanil is also sometimes referred to as synthetic heroin, though it is 100 times more powerful than even fentanyl. It has no approved use for humans and is primarily used to sedate large animals such as elephants.
Even among those with a high tolerance for opioids, a minuscule amount of carfentanil can rapidly lead to overdose and death. Fortunately, carfentanil use is not widespread, but it has devastated communities such as those in Ohio, causing hundreds of overdoses and fatalities.
Other Uses for “Synthetic Heroin”
In some cases, the term synthetic heroin may even be used to refer to methadone, a drug that acts like an opioid but was developed to help people stop using heroin. There is also a drug called China White that refers to derivatives of fentanyl. It’s comparable to heroin and morphine but much more powerful. China White often includes a variety of substances besides fentanyl, such as heroin or even cocaine in some cases.
What Does Synthetic Heroin Look Like?
Because the term synthetic heroin can refer to many types of opioid products, both prescription and illicit, this is a difficult question to answer. These drugs could be in powder, liquid, or tablet form, and they can be snorted, smoked, injected, or consumed orally. If you suspect someone you know is using synthetic heroin, you may have noticed white powder, pills, needles, or other drug paraphernalia.
Other signs of synthetic heroin use include the following:
- Changes in behavior
- Use of street slang for heroin
- Missing valuables or money
- “Track marks” or sores
- Legal and financial troubles
- Deception and secretiveness
Effects of Synthetic Heroin
- An initial euphoric rush
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flushed skin
- Severe itching
- Slowed heart rate
- Drowsiness for hours
- Heaviness of limbs
- Clouded thinking
- Withdrawal symptoms
Signs of Overdose
An overdose on synthetic heroin is life-threatening and will need immediate medical attention. The following are common signs associated with an overdose:
- Bluish lips and/or nails
- Shallow/slowed breathing
- Pinpoint pupils
- Muscle spasticity
- Low blood pressure
- Weak pulse
- Respiratory arrest
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
An addiction to heroin or other opioids is a very serious, even life-threatening condition that requires professional treatment. Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive programs in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. Services include behavioral therapy, counseling, peer support groups, aftercare planning, and much more.
We employ caring addiction specialists who render services to our clients with compassion and expertise. We are dedicated to ensuring that each client receives the resources and support they need to break free from the cycle of addiction. We help our clients develop improved coping skills, prevent relapse, and learn how to enjoy long-lasting wellness and sobriety.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to heroin, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today! We can provide you with the help and support you need to experience a full recovery and long-term happiness!