Information on drugs

Heroin

KNOWN AS

H, horse, junk, mud, snow, smack, skag, tar, white.

FORMULA

Diacetylmorphine, morphine diacetate, or also called diamorphine has the chemical formula C21H23NO5.
ORIGIN

Heroin was first synthesized at St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London in 1874. Two decades later, it was independently synthesized by Bayer pharmaceutical company. Starting in 1898, Bayer marketed it under the trademark Heroin as an over-the-counter cough suppressant.
PRESENTATION

Heroin comes in a variety of different forms, from white, rose, grey, or brown powder to black tar. It is rarely pure and often mixed with other substances such as starch, sugar, and many others. Packaging ranges from folded up squares of aluminium foil, small plastic/ziplock bags, gelatin capsules or balloons tied at the top.
DEPENDENCE & TOLERANCE

  • High dependence. Several hours after the last dose of the substance, the addict needs another dose.
  • High tolerance. Tolerance occurs rapidly. The addict tends to increase the amount of heroin to achieve the effects that used to be achieved with lower doses, which triggers an apparent habituation and dependence.

ABSTINENCE SYNDROME

The list of signs and symptoms that appear after a person has stopped using heroin start about 8 hours after the last dose, peaking within 36 to 72 hours, and gradually subsiding over 5 to 10 days. This is known as going “cold turkey”.

Abstinence syndrome has several phases:

  • Early symptoms of withdrawal include increased tearing, sweating, a feeling of weakness, a desire for the drug, yawning and runny nose.
  • In the intermediate stage the addict is restless, with high levels of anxiety, and may experience tremors, muscle pain, irritability, goose bumps, pupil dilation, insomnia, chills, psychomotor agitation (frequent movements and difficulty suppressing them), etc.
  • As the withdrawal symptoms progress, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, spontaneous ejaculation, severe pain and cramps in the limbs, fever, etc., may appear.
  • These symptoms usually disappear in approximately a week, although the craving for the drug remains for a while. The syndrome described, although perceived as unbearable by many heroin addicts, is not serious and can be overcome with no risk to the person’s health. Apart from variables such as the amount ingested, the frequency and the means of administration, the intensity of these symptoms largely depends on the subject’s motivation and expectations, the family and professional support they have.


ADMINISTRATION

Intravenous injection. Can also be smoked.


Alcohol

KNOWN AS

There are different names that refer to different beverages containing alcohol: beer, rum & coke, red wine, shots, liquor, moonshine, rum, sherry, champagne, etc…


FAMILLY

Alcohol

FORMULA

When talking about alcohol we refer to ethyl alcohol (ethanol), with the chemical formula CH3 CH2 OH, which is the main component in alcoholic beverages and is responsible for the psychoactive effects.

ORIGIN

It is produced by fermentation or distillation.
Depending on the procedure used, different strength beverages (alcohol concentration) will be obtained, such that wine, beer or champagne are obtained by fermenting fruit or grains, whereas one would have to resort to distillation to obtain gin, whisky, rum, etc.

PRESENTATION

Beverages with different strengths, colour, flavour, bottling, etc…

ADMINISTRATION

Oral.



Benzodiazepines

KNOWN AS

Anxiolytics, sleeping pills.


FAMILLY

Depressants/Psychoactive drugs

FORMULA

The name and chemical formula depends of the benzodiazepine.

ORIGIN

Since ancient times, different products have been used to cause sedation. The first chemical compound introduced for such purposes, in the mid-nineteenth century, was bromide. In the early twentieth century barbiturates began to be used, which in the first half of last century were the drugs that dominated the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and all kinds of psychiatric disorders. In the 50s, the first antipsychotics were synthesised, a group of drugs used to treat serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. In the same decade, several Swiss chemists isolated an alkaloid (Reserpine) from the routes of a plant called Rauwolfia serpentine, a shrub that grows mainly in Asia. From that moment onwards, it began to be used as a tranquilizer to treat hypertension and psychological disorders.

In the 60s, benzodiazepines began to be used, gradually replacing barbiturates in the medical profession because they were safer to use. Since then, over 2,000 different benzodiazepines have been synthesised.

PRESENTATION

Lozenges, tablets, drops and vials.

ADMINISTRATION

Oral, intramuscular.



Cannabis

KNOWN AS

Marijuana, dope, joint, grass, hashish, kief, etc.


FAMILLY

Depressants/Psychoactive drugs

FORMULA

Depressants/Psychoactive drugs

ORIGIN

Cannabinoids are compounds derived from the Cannabis sativa plant, grown almost everywhere in the world. It has been grown for centuries both because of the use of hemp fibre and because of its psychoactive properties and its supposed clinical use.

PRESENTATION

It is usually presented in three different ways for consumption: “marijuana or grass” made from the dried leaves, flowers and small stems from Cannabis sativa, “hashish or hash” which is made by pressing the female plant resin, giving rise to a brown block. Its THC content (up to 20%) is higher than that of marijuana (from 5 to 10%) and its toxicity is therefore potentially higher.

Lastly, there is a liquid concentrate known as “cannabis oil or hash oil” which is obtained by mixing the resin with a solvent such as acetone, alcohol or petrol, which partly evaporates, resulting in a viscous substance with very high levels of THC (up to 85%).

ADMINISTRATION

Smoked: mixed with tobacco and rolled into cigarettes. Oral: in infusions, omelettes and cakes.



Cocaine Hydrochloride

KNOWN AS

Coke, snow, blow, flake, white, etc…


FORMULA

C17H21NO4 (acid form of the substance)

ORIGIN

Cocaine is an alkaloid extracted from the leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylum coca) or prepared by means of chemical synthesis. Cocaine production is simple and the steps to be followed are well defined: the coca leaves are essentially made into a paste which is then turned into hydrochloride. Cocaine production is possible with the help of a series of chemical substances, called precursors, including ether, sulphuric acid, petrol, etc.

The final product is usually mixed with substances (adulterants) such as talcum powder, cornflower, amphetamines, quinine, basic acid, strychnine, detergents, formaldehyde, etc. Its purity may therefore range from 5% to 50%. Depending on the production process and the substances used, different types of derivatives may be obtained: coca paste, also known as “basuco”, cocaine hydrochloride, free base and “crack”.

PRESENTATION

A white crystalline powder. It usually appears in paper bags or sachets (bindles).

ADMINISTRATION

Snorted, injected, topical.



Ecstasy

KNOWN AS

X, E, XTC, Mandy, Molly, pills, beans, etc…


FAMILLY

Psychostimulants/Synthetic drugs

FORMULA

MDMA 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine

ORIGIN

It is a synthetic substance produced in illegal laboratories, derived from amphetamines, with a mild hallucinogenic effect. To date, the main producers are European. However, both the material and the knowledge required to produce it are very basic, which makes it easy to produce almost everywhere.

PRESENTATION

Tablets, capsules, powder. The former are the most widely used and come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours in order to make them more attractive and commercial. They appear mixed with many other substances or “cutting agents” such as chalk, detergent, etc., some of which have psychoactive effects, like caffeine, amphetamines, ephedrine, etc.

ADMINISTRATION

It is usually taken orally, injected or snorted.