Heroin Is Harmless?

Posted: April 23rd, 2008 | Filed under: drugs, heroin, legalization, opiates | 59 Comments »

Heroin Kills?

Heroin Kills?

To get people to read my book I employ the common technique of teasers. Teasers for non-fiction books are often facts that will startle the reader and encourage them to find out more. None of my teasers have provoked greater skepticism, scorn, and anger than the statement, “Heroin is harmless.”

I am not naive or callous. As a public defender I frequently interviewed heroin addicts upon their incarceration. I saw firsthand these people going through withdrawal and I saw the tragedies their lives had become. However, almost all – if not all – of the damage heroin had inflicted upon these people and their families was due to the drug’s criminalization. I will explain.

Three aspects of an ingestible substance that can be considered harmful are (1) its potential to debilitate, (2) its effects on one’s health, and (3) its potential to kill via an overdose.

(1) Like the stimulants, caffeine and cocaine, heroin is not a debilitating drug. That is, moderate usage does not interfere with one’s functioning, e.g. driving ability. This is in contrast to alcohol, in which one’s performance is directly hampered. Extreme usage can interfere just like with caffeine and cocaine, e.g. too much of a stimulant can make it difficult to focus and even cause hallucinations. However, even heroin addicts can moderate their usage so that they can work unimpaired and avoid withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, heroin addicts can and do have successful professional lives in such diverse fields as surgery and law enforcement.

(2) Long-term heroin addiction is relatively harmless to one’s health. Like caffeine addicts who “need” their coffee in the morning, the side-effects are minimal. Heroin’s long-term side-effects can include constipation and impotency. This is in contrast to alcohol and tobacco which destroy the liver and the lungs respectively.

(3) Like caffeine, it is difficult to fatally overdose on heroin by itself. (It is easy to overdose when using heroin and alcohol in combination.) The popular image of a dead heroin user with the needle still in his or her arm is misleading. A fatal heroin overdose is usually a long process that takes over an hour and it can be countered within minutes by an antidote.

This antidote is Narcan. It is so tightly regulated that strict limits on its usage have caused overdose deaths even when paramedics were present. Narcan is not dangerous or addictive which leads one to believe the government wants heroin users to die. This twisted thesis is reinforced by recent comments made in light of nasally administered Narcan (LINK).

Lastly, heroin withdrawal – unlike alcohol withdrawal – is never fatal.

In many ways heroin is as harmless as caffeine and it is definitely less harmful than alcohol. Heroin has garnered the reputation of the deadliest and most evil of drugs largely due to side-effects from the War on Drugs. To learn the awesome and fascinating reality of it all, read my book, You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos. For more on the safe usage of heroin devoid of moralizing read Dr. Francis Moraes’ Heroin User’s Handbook. (Moraes is a former heroin addict.)


  1. Robert Arthur, You Will Die: The Burden of Modern Taboos (2007). LINK

59 Comments on “Heroin Is Harmless?”

  1. 1 Nicolas said at 7:33 am on January 23rd, 2015:

    Thank you ! Someone who gets it right ! I’ve been a heroin addict for over ten years, people I confide in are shocked when I tell them, I hold a high paying job and position, according to my doctor I am in extremely good health, I eat only organic food, I don’t drink or smoke, I exercise 5 days a week, and I shoot really good smack 3-4 times a day. The only reason I am in good health is because I am able to afford my habit and I have a really good connection (pure heroin). Most addicts don’t have what I do, and are forced to use tainted drugs ( black tar heroin is toxic), this results in poor health. Incarceration for personal drug use is an absolute affront to liberty, our founding fathers would never have stood for such an invasion of citizens privacy. My extensive experience as a heroin addict has shown me how destructive criminalization and media sensationalism is… Do a little research and you will find that heroin in its pure form, like all opiates is nontoxic to the human body, its effects on the liver and kidneys are negligible, it’s the only drug that a pregnant woman can be addicted to without causing birth defects, alcohol ? It’s astonishing that alcohol is legal if one were to compare drugs and their effects. The world has it all wrong thanks to the media and the war on drugs, if addicts could legally walk into a Walgreens, buy pure heroin at a reasonable price, we would eliminate all crime associated with heroin, we would eliminate overdoses (doses would be labeled with instructions) we would improve the health and safety of millions, and eliminate a violent and brutal black market run by cartels who kidnap and behead people for laughs… It’s truly a sick world and so many people think they know what their talking about, trust me, I know because I am a heroin addict, iv lived it.
    Why do I use heroin ? It’s my crutch… Like your coffee or red wine or beer. It’s what gives me that extra energy in the morning, and what relaxes me in the evening. I don’t hurt anyone with my usage, I am an extremely productive member of society, I just happen to like opiates and that’s my choice, no one should have the right to tell another person what to put in their own bodies…that is really basic liberty !

  2. 2 mr anonymous albatross said at 1:43 pm on April 11th, 2015:

    Having been a user of Nicotine and Heroin both, from my experience it isn’t even close….Heroin is far and away more addicting.

    I remember feeling pretty crappy one day, craving heroin , with no money. So what do I do? Take a title loan out on my car. I recieved 2600 cash and was to pay something like 8 grand back over the next few years. Well, that car is now repossessed and has been sent to collections. I am still 4k in debt to them.

    The point is, heroin makes me so easily rationalize the most irrational of ideas. It makes me completely fine with doing the shittiestt of things to the people I are about the most. THAT, is why it is so dangerous, IMO.

    I am pro-legalization of all drugs btw. The accurate point you DO have is that prohibition causes WAY more harm than good. We would see a significant decrease in death and other health problem related to usage (cleaner product, exact dosage known, safer administration, not having to pick up from a dangerous dealer–blackmarket drying off).

    Anyway, I would go as far to say that heroin is good for me. Like the poster above, it is a great crutch for me. Relaxes me, gives me energy, makes me more confident and outgoing. I also smoke it, so OD’ing isn’t really a concern for me.

    STILL, due to how addicting

  3. 3 michael said at 3:39 am on November 20th, 2015:

    I love it but it does make me isolate

    Using heroin does bring out the worst in non m musers they really want to crush destroy the addict.

    I have experienced no kindness or helping hand from anyone in straight world ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  4. 4 michael said at 3:45 am on November 20th, 2015:

    also I would say that heroin was responmsible for me stoppj ng cocaine use and helped me stop drinking

  5. 5 Travis said at 5:38 am on March 2nd, 2016:

    Likely hundreds of thousands of Finnish WW2 soldiers used heroin and no more than 100-150 of them became addicts. Whole generation of Finnish children drink heroin for cough (Pulmo) and in 1948 151 kilos of heroin was used as prescription drug by Finns. And heroin or morphine was never huge problem compared to alcohol. Without heavy pressure by UN and USA it’s obvious that Finland would have continued to use heroin as perfect painkiller much longer than until 1957.

  6. 6 Lou said at 9:46 am on March 26th, 2016:

    I agree totally, it is only a problem because it is illegal. Walgreens now incidentally makes Narcan available.

  7. 7 Nathan said at 7:37 pm on March 28th, 2016:

    Addicting yes, but in moderation can be just fine. You can overdose on water but in moderation is fine.

  8. 8 Stephen said at 7:38 pm on November 14th, 2016:

    I totally agree that prohibition is deadly! Look at what prohibition of alcahol caused. Organized crime made millions and a lot of people were killed. People started to drink industrial alcohol that killed hundreds of thousands of people. And what did the government do? they just made the industrial alcohol more toxic! Which killed mere people. The same thing is being repeated with the new rules Dr’s have to go by is causing many people to turn to harion for chronic pain relief! I personally have several friends who have done this and 2 that have died due adulterated herion cut with many derivatives of fentnal which by the way the government is playing catchup with Chinese scientists who slightly change the formulas. They have an analog “carfentnyl ” that is supposed to be 10,000 times as strong as fentnal! It is strong enough to be weaponized and has been used as a weapon in Russia, as I recall killing hundreds of innocent hostages. The same thing is repeating it self with herion, the talaban and organized crime is reaping hundreds of millions if dollars to fuel the war on the US. And terrorism across the globe!! You don’t have to be a genius to see that. Emergency teams are being overwhelmed with so many overdose “VICTOMS” not criminals!!!on top of that prisons are bursting at the seams putting opiate users in jail longer than murderers or rapists in many cases!

  9. 9 Johny said at 12:09 am on December 2nd, 2016:

    Stephen – ffs man which school did you go to, you should sue them. How about reading what you write but seeing you misspell almost every single drug name even Talaban (it’s TALIBAN btw) i suspect the issue is deeper than just your grammar. Anyway, 22 years on heroin i can say apart from money problems and occasional trouble with nazis (meaning cops) i am doing way better than my “normal” alcoholics mates. It’s a great shame we are treated as troublemakers when the real problem is somewhere else. Take care and nice gouchin ?