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UNDCP Heroin Lies

The UNDCP is generally a good source drug information. But they are far too much under the thumb of the United States not to falter when discussing heroin. In an otherwise excellent article called The Structure of Morphine they have the following to say about heroin:

Although its analgesic action is stronger and faster than that of morphine, heroine has only limited use because of its great drawbacks and dangerous features. It is more toxic than morphine, and very rapidly produces habituation and addiction, accompanied by intense euphoria and excitation. These latter effects make the heroine addict particularly dangerous. The manufacture and use of heroine are prohibited in many countries, including the United States.

This short passage has six (count 'em, six) errors. Check them out:

Stronger
Heroin is a pro-drug that depends upon being chemically converted to morphine. Heroin is more effective than morphine because it is easier to get heroin to the brain. But if the heroin didn't turn into morphine once there, it wouldn't be of any value.
Faster
This is the single most common error made by medical writers. The common statement is that heroin crosses the blood-brain barrier three times faster than morphine. Writing this (and I have done it myself) is to use the language loosely. Three heroin molecules cross the barrier for each morphine molecule. Thus heroin does not have a greater rush (at equivalent doses) as is often stated.
More Toxic
Heroin is more toxic in mice and rats. All evidence suggests that heroin is less toxic than morphine in humans. Clearly, the rodent community should be outraged, however.
More Addictive
Since heroin's effect is that of morphine, heroin is not more addictive than morphine.
Excitation
Where the UNDCP came to the conclusion that heroin makes the user excited is unclear. It does not.
Dangerous User
Heroin users are less dangerous than "normal" people. The only thing that makes heroin users dangerous is their need to get money for an extremely expensive drug that would cost pennies per day if it were legal.

Conclusion

Now if I could just get the UNDCP people to read Heroin Helper, we might get somewhere. But just about any article on opioids will contain this kind of misinformation about heroin. If it doesn't, the author will be accused of being "pro-drug". So live and lie or die with the truth.

by Dr. H © 2002
Last Modified: 7 January 2004


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