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What is Heroin?

What is Heroin?

Heroin was first manufactured in 1898 by the Bayer pharmaceutical company of Germany and marketed as a treatment for tuberculosis, as well as a remedy for morphine addiction. Heroin (like opium and morphine) is made from the resin of poppy plants. Opium is refined to make morphine, then further refined into different forms of heroin. Heroin can be injected, smoked or sniffed, and is highly addictive. Drug abuse today too often takes the form of a tragic progression from prescription painkillers to the cheaper alternative of heroin. Heroin users feel an initial rush or sense of euphoria, and once those effects decrease, the body craves more, leading to withdrawal which includes symptoms like restlessness, aches and pains in the bones, diarrhea, and vomiting.  Between 1995 and 2002, the number of teenagers in America age 12 to 17 who used heroin at some point in their lives increased by 300 percent.

In 2015, 69,477 treatment admissions were reported to the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services by substance-abuse treatment providers.  Almost half – 47 percent (32,529 people) were treated for heroin or other opiate use. Seventy-eight percent live independently, and 9 percent are from Bergen County. Currently, the death rate in New Jersey due to heroin overdose is more than triple the national average.

Treatment is available and anyone can “beat” this addiction if willing to attend a treatment program and utilize the components learned in the program. Treatment is individualized and based on needs, but staying long enough in treatment is critical. In addition, effective treatment addresses all of the patient’s needs, not just his/her drug use. For help, go to and click on New Jersey for a list of facilities that treat addictions.