Heroin Is Harmless?

Posted: April 23rd, 2008 | Filed under: drugs, heroin, legalization, opiates | 54 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

54 Comments on “Heroin Is Harmless?”

  1. 1 woog said at 5:51 am on May 26th, 2008:

    Heroin addicts can moderate their usage? First I’ve heard of that.

    This article is irresponsible, and I’m pro-legalization.

  2. 2 Administrator said at 3:38 pm on May 26th, 2008:

    Woog, here is an “irresponsible” scientific study for you – D. Shewan & P. Dalgarno, “Evidence for Controlled Heroin Use?” British Journal of Health Psychology, Feb. 2005.

  3. 3 Money said at 3:29 am on May 27th, 2008:

    Dude, comparing the effects of caffeine to those of heroin should not even cross anyones mind as credible. Im also pro-legalization, but this article is biased and downplays the real dangers of the most addicting drug known to man.

  4. 4 Administrator said at 9:08 pm on May 27th, 2008:

    Dude, (1) heroin is not the most addictive drug known to man. Nicotine is. See my book or Dr. Paul Gahlinger’s book, Illegal Drugs. (2) I don’t downplay heroin’s dangers. I simply point out that almost all of its dangers stem from its criminalization. If caffeine was illegal for close to a century, there is a good possibility people would be smoking and injecting it. A heroin/caffeine comparison would not appear so farfetched after a War on Caffeine.

  5. 5 The Spook said at 10:57 pm on May 31st, 2008:

    Interesting Article. I also wanted to add, that drug addiction is not a disease, it is a choice. For more info on that, hell check out the Penn and Teller episode of Bullshit on addiction. Quite interesting.

  6. 6 Josh said at 12:08 pm on June 4th, 2008:

    I had a college professor who said something similar many years ago. He said that the reason many heroin users look so unhealthy is because they lead an unhealthy lifestyle in addition to being on heroin. Their heroin usage may be a factor in their unhealthy lifestyle, but the drug itself isn’t making them unhealthy – their obsession with the drug, and their subsequent lack of focus on other things (food) is more problematic then the chemical reactions that heroin causes in the body.

  7. 7 asdf said at 4:37 am on July 7th, 2008:

    I don’t know anyone who would be willing to give a complete stranger a blow job for a mocha.

    Heroin addicts, on the other hand, make up a large segment of the prostitution industry… which goes to show how incredibly difficult it is to quit. People would rather sell their own bodies than give up heroin.

    Sorry man. I’m pro-legalization for many drugs and this article is complete crap. I think your desire to sell more books through “shock value” is clouding your better judgment.

    Oh, and btw, addicts may develop collapsed veins, heart infection,liver disease, etc. etc. etc. Heroin is far from harmless and the health impacts have been widely documented.

  8. 8 Antipas said at 5:05 am on July 7th, 2008:

    asdf, addicts may develop those problems, not directly from the use of heroin but the long term and improper use of syringes. A lack of hygiene, medical training on how to administer an IV shot and the reuse of hypodermic needles do to their controlled status has much more to do with the problem than heroin itself.

    Problems like becoming a prostitute for heroin are real but it’s because of it’s illegal status. It causes prices to be dramatically higher and availability lower. Make cigarettes illegal and I imagine you’d see similar problems. Availability would decrease, prices would go up. You’d see nicotine, a pesticide for christsake, available in an IV form soon, more than likely. Even if not, I promise you, you’d start seeing lower class people who can no longer afford their habits prostituting themselves for a fix.

  9. 9 jammin said at 8:37 pm on July 7th, 2008:

    I have a sister who is addicted to heroin yes it has messed her life up and she has collapsed veins. My sister in law has just come off methadone and I would not want to have to cluck. I’ve seen the damage that can happen. I once met a guy who since died because when he overdosed the bloke who sold him the gear panicked and gave him a shot of amphetamine, addicts die when the gear they get is too pure, Methadone is more addictive and toxic than heroin, The taliban control most heroin on the black market while we spend billions on destroying it and people in africa die in pain because they cannot get diamorphine which is heroin that anyone whos needed that in hospital would say they were glad to have had. Prohibition kills more addicts than heroin. prohibition prevents harm reduction creates powerful gangsters (Al Capone?) and it aint stoppin anyone. WTF???

  10. 10 asdf said at 11:12 pm on July 7th, 2008:

    I guarantee you that syringes don’t make people prostitute themselves. Otherwise every diabetic on the planet would be ho-ing themselves out for insulin. The problem is the heroin, not the needles.

    Yes, if heroin were cheaper people wouldn’t need to enter into prostitution. That’s not my point. My point is that heroin makes people think that prostitution is a good trade-off in order to get a fix. It’s the f***ed up mentality that heroin addiction causes. That’s my problem with the drug… it takes away your logic and rationality. Addicts will do anything for the next fix. Last time I checked, you can buy a hit of low-grade heroin for around $50 US. How many people willingly trade sex with a total stranger for $50? It’s completely irrational and, with AIDS and other STD’s, it can also be life-threatening. The addiction forces them to make a completely irrational decision.

    You don’t see prostitution rings sprouting up around other drugs like nicotine, pot, shrooms, XTC, acid, etc.

    It’s irresponsible to compare heroin to nicotine. Show me a nicotine rehab clinic where people are stealing televisions and offering sex for a cigarette. You can’t, cuz they don’t exist. I can show you plenty of methadone clinics where this is the case.

  11. 11 doug said at 4:05 pm on July 8th, 2008:

    hey, heroin… even the poppy plant in general is your friend and has saved more lives than taken. Be respectful.

    Heroin is good.

    Heart heroin.

  12. 12 Administrator said at 7:02 pm on July 14th, 2008:

    asdf, if you made those baseless comments in a mainstream mass-media forum in America you would receive boisterous applause while I would be shooed off stage to be patted down by law enforcement. Like a clever politician, you managed to tie the specter of drugs in with the moral majority’s righteous disgust with sex work.

    You are wrong about heroin’s health effects. Heroin users’ physical ailments stem largely from (1) as Antipas said, improper use of needles and (2) impurities in street bought “heroin;” NOT from heroin itself. I stand by my original assertion that the long-term negative health effects of heroin are largely limited to constipation and impotency. The most accessible documentation for this is Dr. Paul Gahlinger’s book, Illegal Drugs.

    You state heroin’s severe health effects are well-documented? Please direct me to your sources. If you point me to a DEA/ONDCP touted study make sure it supports your claim because – unlike main-stream reporters – I will actually read it.

    Are you damning heroin because some of its addicts do sex work? You seem to think that without heroin no woman would be so irrational. Despite your moral scruples, many intelligent, educated, and sober women choose sex-work of their own volition. A large percentage of street-prostitutes are addicted to some substance or another – NOT call girls, who constitute the majority of sex workers in America. See my blog entries on prostitution or my “Prostitution Legalization Primer” (both at right) for more documentation.

    If heroin was legal, and thus cheaper, desperate addicts wouldn’t have to prostitute themselves on the street. Of the illegal drugs you mention as not being associated with prostitution, none are as physically addictive as heroin. (Hallucinogens aren’t addictive at all.) Alcohol is similar to heroin in terms of physical addictiveness, but you don’t see as many people prostituting themselves for it because it’s legal. That IS the point.

  13. 13 STORMCAT06 said at 9:50 pm on July 15th, 2008:

    I loved the article and thought it was well thought out and on target. I for one good sir completely agree with you. Heroin in pure form will NOT harm your body. Its the effects of drug prohibtion that have harmed people.

  14. 14 Robert said at 12:04 am on July 23rd, 2008:

    Sir, you have written an article that I find hard to believe. While I find most of what you have to say to be not so strong, you recommend other sources for people to look further to which I find to be a strong point in itself.
    The only experience I’ve had with heroin (I’ve never used the drug this is in reference to anything personally related to myself involving the drug) is that my cousin attempted to overdose on the drug. Fortunately, he was unsuccessful in his attempt and he is still with us today. While I may not know the details of my cousins incident but according to what I knew, over dosing on heroin was an easy thing to do. However, your article has encouraged me to do my own research on this drug. I appreciate your article.

    Thank you.

  15. 15 Hunter Gillespie said at 5:43 pm on July 30th, 2008:

    I know I didn’t just read an article downplaying the severity of heroin addiction. . .

    That just can’t be.

    While I’m for the legalization for all drugs–you can’t just compare caffeine to heroin.

    I’m an avid caffeine-aholic, but never have I accidently drinkin enough to kill me.

    I’ve had people close to me die of heroin OD’s.

    My father died of a methadone overdose. . .opiates are dangerous.

    Cocaine is dangerous.

    Drugs are dangerous.

    Don’t down play that–ever.

  16. 16 B said at 8:25 pm on July 30th, 2008:

    Well written article. A lot of people on this forum clearly refuse to look past the stigma which is attached to heroin. Heroin can be extremely addictive, true. I’ve heard that the level of dopamine released in your brain during peak of a heroin high is actually about 10 times the amount that is released during orgasm. In this light, it may be inaccurate to compare caffeine to heroin. However, both certainly have potential for addiction, and if heroin were legal and taxed it would eliminate a great deal of criminal activity. (Al Qaeda makes most of their profit from heroin production and trafficking)

    There will always be a certain percentage of a population which is addicted to drugs, whether legal or not. Why not let the government benefit from their addiction, instead of spending millions every year in the “war on drugs”?

  17. 17 asdf said at 12:17 am on September 3rd, 2008:

    You wanted references, you got ’em. You fail to grasp that I’m not linking the sex industry with heroin; I’m linking the MENTALITY of selling one’s body with securing a single hit.

    My question stands: When was the last time you considered giving a stranger a blowjob for a dime bag of pot or a few cups of coffee??? Seems laughable, but people do it for heroin regularly. Hence many of the social problems (prostitution, robbery, etc) are tied to heroin addiction.

    I think this is all academic anyway, since you are trying to sell copies of your book through shock value. It’s the only logical explanation for your stance on this issue.


    Heroin and Death
    Time Magazine

    Black Death: Race and Heroin-related Overdose in San Francisco
    American Sociological Association

    Acute Heroin Fatalities in San Francisco
    Western Journal of Medicine

    Deaths of Heroin Users in a General Practice
    Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners

    DREW, L. R. H. (1982) Avoidable deaths from drug intoxication, Medical Journal of Australia, 2, 215.

  18. 18 Administrator said at 7:09 pm on September 4th, 2008:

    asdf, all of your references refer to heroin deaths from street usage of street heroin. I have never asserted that heroin usage is not currently dangerous. However, it is dangerous because it is criminalized.

    Your cited works refer to overdose victims. The unfortunate people who died didn’t know how much heroin they were putting in their system (purity), what they were putting it in their system with (adulterants), nor did they have access to Narcan.

    I pointed out the flaws in comparing heroin to pot and coffee in the last paragraph of my July 14th post.

    I respect your interest in this issue. I know you will never buy my book, so please go to a library and get Dr. Gahlinger’s book, Illegal Drugs.

  19. 19 pharmachibi said at 9:13 pm on October 29th, 2008:

    I happened to stumble across this article, and decided to read the comments as well. I had a feeling you’d have skeptics, even angry ones. I salute you for not backing down from your support of the pure, whole, scientific truth. I don’t understand why Narcan isn’t OTC; if I could, I’d hand it out for free to every opioid user I came across. Same as I’d hand out epinephrine to anyone with severe allergies. I’d sooner try a line of heroin than of maybe 25% of the drugs I dispense–because it’s safer. The fact that millions of people can abuse a drug to an early grave does not change its ability to be used safely. Period.

    I’ll be back, and I’ll look for your book, too.

  20. 20 sam said at 11:53 pm on November 18th, 2008:

    Actually, when tobacco was rationed in Germany during WW1 people did things for tobacco that people do now for heroin or crack. The addiction’s the same or stronger, but the current availability and low price make tobacco a less prostituting drug. I wouldn’t do any of those very addicting drugs, but in no way are all of the stereotypes associated with them from the drugs themselves, and in no way is their use immoral.

  21. 21 altamiranda said at 9:53 pm on December 2nd, 2008:

    asdf, what you havent grasped is that the coffee and soda and cigarette industry are legal businesses, that is, they are regulated, there are quality control issues which all of these companies must pass. If Dunkin Donuts started putting cocaine in their coffee, they would get shut down FAST. However if Joe decides to cut his heroin 50/50 with diphenhydramine (active ingredient in benadryl, it potentiates opiate substances making the user feel higher than he/she is) to make a bigger profit, No one will stop him… there is no national heroin purity monitoring agency. It is when Joe gets arrested and Junkie Jane gets a new dealer, whose cut has 75 parts heroin for 25 parts diphenhydramine (or baby powder, or wutever) that Jane overdoses because the product quality and purity cannot be standardized in an illegal situation. Now that Jane recieves 50% more heroin than her usual dose, she runs into trouble. When you take an aspirin, it says on the bottle how much aspirin is in each tablet and each tablet has that much. Otherwise people would accidentally die all the time. Iv’e had idiots tell me heroin gives you aids… dirty needles give you aids, dirty drugs make you overdose. In addition, alcohol consumption can make a difference. I have been addicted to painkillers, which are regulated LEGAL substances, in other words, I was getting x mg of drugs everytime, I knew how much substance was being put into my body, and what made me feel great on friday night could make me feel like hell on saturday after drinking 3 or 4 beers. (which normally would produce little to no effect, i could easily drink 10-12 beers in those days) so please, read the article carefully, were talking about diacetylmorphine… not the shit drug dealers sell in bags which could be any concoction of substances that should never ever be found inside a human bloodstream. As far as sexual favors, Im sure if alcohol or nicotine were as illegal as heroin, people would be doing similar things for a beer or a ciggarette.

  22. 22 Zero said at 8:20 pm on December 20th, 2008:

    “It’s the f***ed up mentality that heroin addiction causes. That’s my problem with the drug. It takes away your logic and rationality.”

    Exactly. Its not like anything legal and readily available in bars and convenience stores ever impaired my logic and reasoning ability.

    “Addicts will do anything for the next fix. Last time I checked, you can buy a hit of low-grade heroin for around $50 US. How many people willingly trade sex with a total stranger for $50?”

    If heroine prices were more reasonable, I wouldn’t need drastic measures to come up with the money.

    “It’s completely irrational and, with AIDS and other STDs, it can also be life-threatening.”

    Remember speakeasies? Remember bathtub bourbon? That killed. Now I have quality tested alcohol store bought for relative prices. I wonder why that is…

    Well-written article, your opinion is one that I share.

  23. 23 Meena said at 1:01 pm on December 21st, 2008:

    I’ve seen three people die from heroin OD’s, however, I’ve never heard of anybody dying from one too many cups of coffee. From the viewpoint of a chemist, just look at the stuff, it is poison regardless of what you want to call it.

  24. 24 Grace said at 5:49 pm on February 4th, 2009:

    You’re wrong. I’m the daughter of a junkie, and I lived with him (and his parents) for several years when I was a young teenager, facing the results of his addiction on a daily basis.

    There are elements that could tie into your (book-selling) claim (being beaten up by his dealers, being robbed by his dealers, etc.), but there are other things that your theory doesn’t take into account.

    1) Ability to “rise & shine” – heroin makes people want to do nothing else but heroin. Maybe not all people, but the sufficiently addicted, sure. My dad lost job after job after job after job because he couldn’t get up and go to work. Day one, he’d say he had a headache. Day two, he didn’t want to “leave his dream”. Day three, he was just a drooling, stinking mess. This applied to being able to care for his kids, too. I figured out quickly how to get myself the 10mi to school on the city bus, but I was cannier than your average schoolkid. Lucky me.

    2) They’re thoughtless. He would do his drug and all of the selfish things it entails and my Alzheimer’s-ridden grandma and depressed grandpa would just have to put up with the after effects…like the lack of food in the house, denial of care assistance, and no help cleaning up the steadily increasing tide of filth taking over our home. I was just a kid – I couldn’t do it all myself, but I sure tried.

    3) They’re greedy. They want to do their drug and nothing else. If someone gave us a VCR so we could watch movies together as a family and entertain grandpa while he kept his vow to always care for my grandma by being her sole caretaker, dad would sell it as soon as he could to get money for more heroin. If I saved up money and bought myself a stereo, he’d sell it. If a relative gave me their groovy old-fashioned bike, he’d follow me to 7-11, use the secondary lock key (he’d given me the lock), take the bike, and sell it. When the social security checks came, he’d steal most of the money out of grandpa’s pocket as soon as he could. We tried hiding everything we possibly could, but a junkie is a lot like a hound dog for valuables: he always managed to find it. He sold my record collection, school books, even my clothes.

    4) They don’t care about anyone else but themselves. Aside from the above, he used to cook meth in the kitchen to sell for heroin. Again: kids in the house, two helpless seniors, and he’s cooking meth in the kitchen. Did I mention he was a scientific genius? Chemistry and physics.

    5) No get-up-and-go. Yeah, he was a genius. Now he’s a toothless, broken old man who harangues his neighbours and has never worked long enough to get social security.

    6) Poor self-care. Sure, that might be a qualifying factor for using in the first place, but heroin certainly didn’t make this any better. He thought he was so secretive, shooting up between his toes and in his navel, but we could see it all. Especially when he would walk out of the bathroom and go into his junkie stupor and fall down blocking the hallway for hours because none of us were strong enough to move him. He’d do this out in the streets, too, when he was too impatient to get home to use his packet. He’d let himself get filthy and we’d only know he was out of his haze when he’d finally take a shower and get cleaned up again. That would last for a few days at most. Then back to bumville.

    7) Some addicts can control their intake. Many can’t. Dad was one of the latter. It didn’t matter how many good intentions he had to use only one packet a day or whatever other plan he came up with. He always used as much as he could as often as he could. That’s why he ran out of money and got sick and lost jobs and neglected his kids and parents and is now a crippled old man who can’t even chew his food.

    Our inability to bring in health workers to take care of the grandparents may have been mitigated if there was less worry of criminalisation. My inability to have a social worker help me get through the tangle life had become as the child of a junkie might have benefited from the same. I went years without seeing him because he stole from my mom when watching me one weekend, and another time was passed out when my mom came to pick me up…and had been since early the day before. I’m not sure how decriminalisation would have helped there, but who knows.

    There’s more to it than that, sure. There’s a lot more to it than a blog comment is going to cover. I just wanted you to know it’s not all about pet theories and grand ideas. Heroin addicts tend to get pretty hardcore pretty quickly, and everything in their lives suffers from the effects of the drug on the person.

    That said, I’ve long said that a prescription program for addicts would go far to solve many of the problems faced by all affected parties, and I support any efforts to put that into practice. Managed addiction is a far better future for all concerned than treating junkies (and their families) like cockroaches.

  25. 25 alex said at 4:53 pm on February 25th, 2009:

    I’ve been a chipper (I think that’s the term Robert, right?) for over a year now. I’m perfectly fine. I work two jobs and I do comedy in nyc. If I am able to do this “horrible” drug and still function, where is my commercial? Heroin didn’t make your dad a shitty person, your dad was a shitty person. Heroin was his excuse but if he was a mature and responsible person like me he would of never had a problem. I do all drugs except Ice or Crystal and the drugs I do, I do with breaks. I drink caffine as often as I do cocaine. You have to be smart about drugs, all drugs.

  26. 26 Wolfgang said at 9:46 am on March 27th, 2009:

    I have also been a chipper for over 6 years now and remarkably have never caught the sickness (withdrawals). Although really it is not so remarkable. It has been the result of being at least somewhat careful and knowledgeable about my usage. I am now a Ph. D. student who enjoys shooting up recreationally once in a while. It feels good to come out of the closet to people that have seen through this myth. In my early days, Francis at heroinhelper.com was the only source I could turn to for real, potentially life saving information. Kudos to him and thank you Robert.

  27. 27 lemon said at 11:59 pm on July 15th, 2009:

    Alex is right. He is a heavy drug user that may be a bit crazy, but he is right. Drugs are an easy excuse to NOT do something. Whether this is going to class, feeding your kids, or keeping a job, drugs are not THE REASON they are a manifestation of the user’s selfish attitude. I smoke pot, that is selfish, I’ll admit it. I could be spending that money on constructive things or building a savings account, but I don’t really. Why? Because I am selfish. I’ve spent lots of money on drugs at festivals so that I can trip out and have fun. However, I spent this money on me, selfishly. So be it. There are a million ways to be selfish, another million ways to feel depressed, and another million ways you can say “its not that bad” or “I’ll do it tomorrow”

    I may have gotten sidetracked, but the point is, using drugs (Alcohol, Tobacco, Acid, Pot, Heroin, Meth) is not going to benefit anyone but the user (Besides the dealer). Only the user feels the effects. Only the user is going to die when s/he ODs. And if drugs were legal, users wouldn’t feel so trapped. Trapped by the legal system.

    If drugs were legal the problems could be out in the open, not taboo. Heroin users could get treatment without having to give it up for ever and reform their life to accept Jesus in the halfway house. Heroin ODers wouldn’t be left out to dry by the EMTs without narcan. Users wouldn’t have to prostitute themselves because they could get a job without being drug tested (which should end). The illegal nature of drugs makes non-users afraid of users. Users feel isolated, trapped, and don’t know what to do. And all in all, there will be violent addicts that can’t admit their problem whether it is legal or not, but street drugs are more harmful.

    There will always be selfish people that use drugs as an excuse to be even more selfish. However, there will always be users who can separate their selfish time to use and their constructive time to work and help. What the war on drugs does is condemn anyone who uses into the same category. Prohibition doesn’t work, it makes sleazy criminals rich, and gets police officers killed. There is too much profit to prevent it. Start spending money on help for these addicts, not on hunting them down to lock them away.

  28. 28 lisa said at 1:13 am on August 6th, 2009:

    Well, I will position this article as extremely provocative, dangerous and irresponsible. Me as exheroinaddict will say – it (heroin) never leaves you unharmed – read this for better understanding: Neurocognitive Characterizations of Russian Heroin Addicts without a Significant History of Other Drug Use. And by the way most users are not any-color trash – most of them are active members of our society …

  29. 29 Andrew Bryan said at 12:06 am on November 13th, 2009:

    I am a heroin addict, and I know for a fact that if I could go to a clinic and get heroin twice a day I would have none of the drug related problems I do now. Instead of this suboxone/methadone crap they prescribe us that only works for some, heroin prescription would turn my life around. I am a full time college student and got the highest GED scores in the state of NC for 2008, but I can’t even find an apartment that will accept me because of past felony drug convictions. Heroin is really not that bad, I’m better off quitting cigarettes before I try to quit heroin.

  30. 30 Ganjaholic said at 11:57 am on February 11th, 2010:

    I find it no surprise whatsoever that all the people who oppose this article lack any kind of outside sources whatsoever, and any sources denouncing this article are most likely simply regurgitating main stream knowledge. The author is very upfront of his sources, and has the balls to tackle such a controversial subject rather than the cowards who denounce him. And i really hope you objectors aren’t drinking lethal alcohol, it’s more harmful than heroine you hypocrites!

  31. 31 GB said at 7:55 pm on June 2nd, 2010:

    I know quite a few heroin addicts/prostitutes and they ALL have told me that after a few days of use you are HOOKED and DONE. These are people who live in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver BC, not college profs or authors. I have no reason to doubt what they tell me about its dangers. To suggest that heroin is like nicotine or caffeine is absurd.

    Go ahead and shoot it for a few days and see, you will be in a spandex dress and tights by the end of the month, learning to walk in heels.

  32. 32 Voltear said at 10:16 pm on June 26th, 2010:

    I was shocked to see the amount of Prohibitionist claptrap and propaganda coming from people who identify themselves a “pro-legalization”. I guess it’s par for the Drug War course though. What a shame there are so many pusillanimous hypocrites in the anti-Drug War movement. No wonder we have had Prohibition so long.

    The “Leave the Herb alone but arrest all the junkies,” crowd is always out there with that stupid look on their aged faces. This article was a good one and it is correct in everything it says. I have been an opioid addict for 39 years now and I defy anyone to pick me out of the everyday crowd. Addiction does not necessarily cause people to be assholes; it happens to all sorts of people. People who don’t identify themselves. Sure, it is a helluva thing to get under control, at first, but many do – those who aren’t felled by prohibition’s evil effects.

    For example: a Dr. Halsted – one of four founders of the John’s Hopkins Med Center, was found, after his death, to have been a lifelong user of morphine. He to 86, I believe, and was doing groundbreaking and successful surgery till he died. His death, of course, had nothing to do with the morphine (although his longevity might) and there are no reports of him ever prowling about in Spandex and heels.

    The harms of addiction result from it’s criminalization as does the stigma demonstrated so well here by people who – by virtue of their professed opposition to the Drug War (at least where it concerns themselves)should know better.

  33. 33 andy said at 6:30 pm on June 27th, 2010:

    Is everyone forgetting that the number one cause of overdoses is prescription drugs, which are regulated, quality controlled, exactly labeled doses. Heroin is addictive and dangerous for a vast amount of people. I am not saying it shouldn’t be legalized, I agree with much of what was said in the article about the way we treat this addiction, but to say that it is harmless is just loony and makes me think the author is a user. It is your way to make yourself feel better about using. It is YOUR opinion, and you are entitled to it. But it is time to grow up and admit the dangers of heroin. Calling non users cowards is not going to advance the legalization movement, If anything YOU are holding it back.

  34. 34 Anthony said at 3:59 am on July 20th, 2010:

    bro you are crazy everything you have said is compleatly easy to o.d on heroin you have absoluty no clue on what you speak of nobody should take this crackpot seriously your going to mislead anyone here thinking heroin is safe iv used heroin for a while i never o.d but never took more than 10 bags at once on the contrary someone with zero tolerance can die from taking just using one bag you stupid person. please any one who reads this, this man or women or collective group are a bunch of no nothing misleading stupid people please pay no attention to anything they say if you wanna live do your research els were any were.

  35. 35 stoss said at 9:46 pm on September 10th, 2010:

    Nice article, very well cited (Even if you are set against him, you have to admit this. The man has his sources and includes them too.). But, I do think that it maybe could have used a bit of clarification when saying that heroin was comparable to caffeine, mentioning the difference between pure heroin (how it would be if it was legal) and the stuff you can buy on the street, which you never really know about. Other than that, I have no comments except for well done.

  36. 36 Nihilizo said at 7:04 am on December 27th, 2010:

    Heroin is a preservative.

  37. 37 Al Hans said at 2:15 am on June 10th, 2011:

    The only solution is to either
    (a) legalized it and make narcan accessible; or
    (b) make selling it a crime punishable by death, as in Saudi Arabia. They don’t have a drug problem there.

  38. 38 Banthedeathpenalty said at 2:39 am on June 29th, 2011:

    Actually, making heroin trafficking punishable by death doesn’t work. The traffickers are often junkies themselves, the ones really at fault are the drug lords who employ them. Heroin is certainly not harmless but it can be relatively safe to use if it is controlled instead of banned.

  39. 39 Banthedeathpenalty said at 2:40 am on June 29th, 2011:

    Actually, making heroin trafficking punishable by death doesn’t work. The traffickers are often junkies themselves, the ones really at fault are the drug lords who employ them. I do think that selling drugs without a liscence shld be illegal tho.

    Heroin is certainly not harmless but it can be relatively safe to use if it is controlled instead of banned.

  40. 40 Administrator said at 12:33 pm on August 8th, 2011:

    Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a drug problem just like Iran doesn’t have any homosexuals.

    In the 1990s Saudi Arabia began publicly beheading drug smugglers. It did not stop the flow of drugs but the beheading days had to be doubled from two days to four. (Taken from Stuart Walton’s book, Out Of It)

  41. 41 Marlboro said at 2:45 am on September 9th, 2011:

    It’s a powerful pain killer, and terribly habit forming. You can overdose, and it will kill you. It leaves you in such a relaxed state that it’s like being drunk. It’s so addictive that heroin addicts are stereotyped for selling all their stuff, or stealing stuff and selling it to pawn shops for their fix.

    Marijuana’s and cigarettes harmful effects are small, but they add up over time. Check back with us in a decade and see if you can’t detect the damage it’s done. Often it’s so gradual that the user does not notice.

  42. 42 Travel said at 2:47 am on September 9th, 2011:

    Hmm…The health effects of using heroin is not the main reason this drug is so dangerous. It’s how the addicted person behaves. The fact that a recovering addict may need to receive small doses of regulated heroin for years at super high co$t after getting the life back together really shows just damaging this drug really is. How do I know? I dated an addict and have other addicts in my life. There are no lies about the damage heroin causes.

  43. 43 liondog said at 11:24 pm on November 19th, 2012:

    During the 1800’s it was proven by several Dr’s who were themselves addicts,that if an addict had consistent daily access to an unlimited,unadultered supply and access to a supply of healthy food, you would be hard pressed to pick the addict out of a crowd.
    The bottom line being one can be a functioning person in society under those type of circumstances. Due to the fact this is not the way it is because of draconian drug laws,many an addict eventually ‘can’or ‘will’not develop 2nd hand health issues ; but not directly if the dope was of a clean consistant quality.
    As an addict of 35 yrs.now I can agree with this.
    I still contend though,that a sustance that makes it so that you have to barely eat,sleep,s%#t,f%*k;think,or feel, leaves one in a sort of zombie like state. It is not an ideal way if life. On methadone, if one is on a reasonable dose & not using any other drugs or booze I am of the opinion that one will feel a little closer to being truly alive as opposed to the numb zombie-life state Good junk creates.You can even have bowel movements reach orgasms.
    But I digress,I think Robert’s

  44. 44 liondog said at 8:14 pm on November 21st, 2012:

    main point is correct. Also, it is scientifically proven that unlike alcohol & cocaine, heroin does not kill brain cells. As well heroin does not cause the type of irrational thinking that booze,coke & other drugs do. This is the bottom line, is the truth & are the facts. Thank you,
    Best of luck to all.

  45. 45 JimmyJohnson said at 11:31 pm on October 22nd, 2013:

    I feel that these are a lot of good facts. I was discussing this recently with one of my friends and its a tough subject. Some things that might come into consideration when legalizing it would be stuff like the government regulating it and that affect. I read somewhere about how cigarettes are legal but there lobbyists have a pretty large effect on the government. The person made a good point by saying that this could happen with the heroin makers. Also I was wondering if there is any studies on countries where heroin is legal, and the effect it has on people. I guess it would also be good to hear from more ex addicts and there view on this. Good topic though!

  46. 46 bac said at 3:21 am on January 29th, 2014:

    The article asks us to do something difficult: to understand how heroin was used before it was banned and to imagine the consequences of legal, cheap, regulated heroin. Most of us make important judgements based on our personal experiences. We have a hard time putting all that away and imagining a completely different world. This is all the more true when it comes to the hard won knowledge that comes after suffering or death has entered our lives. It’s a survival instinct. Once you have learned that it is fatal to do something, you’re no longer open to discussion about whether to do it.

    All this means that only people who for some reason are open minded, perhaps to the point of self endangerment, could go from an extreme anti heroin view to endorsing this article. Very few such people exist.

    My personality makeup has made me insensitive to the normal taboo formation that most of us go through. So I never had the kind of black and white feelings about heroin or any other drug. In my view the article is 100 percent correct. Every harm of heroin results only from its prohibition along with lack of user knowledge. (So different from the legal hard drugs, nicotine and alcohol.) An informed user in possession of a reliable, affordable, known potency supply of opiate drugs can expect to live normally with no health consequences or overdose risk whatsoever. Full legalization could take us there and get us out of the ghastly harms that our opiate users suffer now.

  47. 47 JimP said at 2:40 am on July 19th, 2014:

    I’ve been H user for over 20 years, i’ll say daily. The thing about H is, everyone is right. Like my father said long ago “Drugs aren’t bad, it’s how they are used that determines it’s evil.”

    Heroin is not a drug anyone should TRY. If you want Heroin, go for it, if you want to see what all the fuss is about? Don’t do it, most people cannot walk that path without ending up “chasing the dragon” and end up in over their head (wallet). The two paths are usually dead or in jail, so they say.

    Its not worth it, if you like relationships, sex, money, happiness. Oh, don’t get me wrong, you can have all those things while using H, but you better be a strong minded individual that can make heavy, crucial and intelligent choices. It will lower your emotional strength though, which for males will probably cause erectile disfunction, earlier than expected. Also, you won’t get those awesome happy moments, like you used to. The feelings you used to get when you were younger will be stripped from you, it will be a constant Hummmmmmm, of mediocre emotional highs and lows, which is probably something some people yearn for. Heroin is a choice, I mainly do it now, to ease my physical pains (no need to discuss them).

    I love H, but sometimes it does get quite costly for me, though. Which is where Heroin gets its stigmata, losing job, stealing, prostitution, losing friends and family, etc. I do have a friend that used with me long ago, he lost his job, friends and was about to lose his house, before quitting – luckily too, he is much better without it. Who knows, maybe I am not doing as well as I think I am – which is my last point to be made. Heroin causes one to lose track of ones own place in the world. Denial is a huge part of Heroin use. It makes you feel like everything is fine, of course, while feeling like your pretty sober but high. This is one of the three keys to successful heroin usage.
    1. Money, you need a bit of money to support it.
    2. Constantly assess your situation in the world, your financial situation especially. Make sure you still have goals and dreams you ARE pursuing.
    3. Don’t get caught. It’s illegal.

    Good Luck. I hope you never have to TRY Heroin. Stick to weed imho, best drug ever.

  48. 48 Bo said at 2:42 am on July 19th, 2014:

    Heroin caused me to lose my erections, I can’t even masturbate anymore.

  49. 49 j said at 4:03 am on January 11th, 2015:

    ANY drug is bad if ya slam it. If you smoke or snort tar THE cons are: not having the $ to maintain the habit and avoid the w/drawls and secondly avoiding cops; the physical repercussions are eschewing libido and severve constipation. SO if ya got the dinero and stay outta trouble then you can maintain it. But in all honesty I would recommend NOT doing it..

  50. 50 Ryan said at 3:29 am on January 23rd, 2015:

    I use daily in A.Z.for 6 yrs now. I worked for 5 of those years full time in construction and health care. My coworkers/ patients/sub contractors/clients never had any idea I was a “junkie”. At the onset of my habit I was being gouged by the only dealer I knew and he was charging me $100 a gram. I did a lot of s*** I’m not proud of in order to pay these prices before I learned other skills or techniques to maintain my habit. I see now that blaming heroin for my actions is like saying guns make people rob an/or kill each other. I have NEVER ONCE STOLEN TO SUPPORT MY HABIT! And I feel lucky to have become a junkie before my alcoholism killed me or ruined my life via a DUI or the 101 other ways its famous for.

  51. 51 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 !

  52. 52 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

  53. 53 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 ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  54. 54 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

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