Heroin Called The Demon Among Us
(Editor’s note: This is part two of a four-part installment from this program designed to help educate the public on drugs and their abuses.)
“If there is a demon that walks among us, it is this,” said Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught of heroin as he conducted a drug awareness program at New Martinsville School on Nov. 20.
He explained that heroin is processed from morphine, which is a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of the poppy plant. Heroin is most used among 18 to 34 year olds.
One of the reasons there has been an upswing in heroin availability is because of the government’s involvement in southwest Asia, according to Haught. “There is a huge amount of heroin produced in Afghanistan and until we went to war in Afghanistan, a lot of those trade routes and such had been closed. Now we are seeing a lot of Afghan heroin,” Haught noted.
Statistically, males are twice as likely to inject heroin, whereas females tend to smoke and snort heroin. When snorted, the user of heroin is inclined to develop holes in the septum, as heroin is very acidic. When using needles, “they start having skin issues.”
“They are not the most sanitary,” Haught said of addicts. “They share needles. They don’t use alcohol to wipe down the skin site. People do it in really unsanitary conditions, and they will share needles. If they have any type of disease like AIDS, HIV, or hepatitis, that will spread amongst their circle of friends.” Also, Haught noted, when combined with alcohol, heroin can be deadly. Street names for the drug include “big daddy,” “brown sugar,” “lemon dope,” “chocolate,” and “Tootsie roll.”
A new type of heroin, resembling parmesan cheese, is simply known as “cheese.” Haught stated that this heroin’s consistency is a longer granule. This heroin is made from black tar heroin, Xanax, and Tylenol PM.
“It’s highly addictive, and very dangerous,” Haught noted.
He stated that the tan colored powder is usually snorted through the nose with a tube, straw, or a small ballpoint pen. It’s packaged in a small paper bundle or Ziploc baggie, and can be bought for as little as $2. Haught stated that the drug is very popular among Hispanic juveniles, both male and female. “They are seeing it in Dallas, but like everything else, it will migrate.”
Next, Haught explained the packaging of heroin. Heroin usually comes in increments of 10 or 20 heroin stamps. “They look like postage stamps or wax paper that contains a single dose of heroin. “But they look just like postage stamps, bundled up in 10s and 20s . . . People will say I want to buy a book of heroin stamps, and they will say I want to buy a book of 10 or a book of 20. Most commonly, they will take that book of heroin stamps, keep enough for personal use, and sell the rest to pay for their habit.”
Haught noted that most of the area’s heroin comes from the Pittsburgh area. “These folks can actually go buy heroin cheaper than they can buy prescription pills. It’s easier for them to produce heroin and bring it here and deal the heroin, and produce meth than go to the trouble to get the pills.”
“One of the things I want to say,” Assistant Principal Shawn Coen stated, “is that if you look at the stamps, the little pieces of folded paper . . . they will also have tin foil, and use little pieces of tin foil. We’ve put custodians through this training. They constantly bring things and lay them on my desk. I don’t care if there are a thousand things that are nothing, if we catch the one thing that is something.”
Other drugs that Haught listed included ketamine, PCP, LSD, MDMA, peyote, and psilocybin mushrooms.
He stated that one concern included kids hiding drugs in candy, such as soaking gummy bears in vodka or mixing cough syrup with painkillers and a soft drink.
Also, Haught highlighted the drug desomorphine, or krokodil. Krokodil was invented in 1932 in the United States and is a derivative of morphine. It has sedative and analgesic effects and is eight to 10 times more potent than morphine. Krokodil is also cheap, costing only $6-8 per injection. It is cheaper than heroin.
“That’s a scary part,” Coen noted of the price. “We know with all the heroin we are seeing today, if there’s a cheaper alternative out there, people would try it.”
Haught noted that krokodil is easily made from codeine, iodine, lighter fluid, industrial fluid, paint thinner, gasoline, and red phosphorus. It’s similar to the process of making meth (to be discussed in next week’s article). “Desomorphine processed this way is highly impure and contaminated with various toxins,” Haught noted.
After beginning to use krokodil, a person is only expected to live one to two years. Krokodil can cause brain damage. Also, the drug is named for the scale-like appearance of the skin of users, as it produces severe tissue damage and deterioration of the internal organs.
“Drug abuse is a serious issue affecting our community and our nation,” Haught noted, in conclusion. “Drug addiction destroys individuals and families. The economic cost of drug addiction, treatment, and prosecution annually is staggering.
“You have breakings and enterings, thefts, domestic abuse, and child abuse. You have all these things that are a direct result of that thing.
“I hope maybe we have been opening your eyes to what is out here in our community, and make you a little bit more aware.”
More drugs were discussed, but they will be highlighted in following articles.