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Most Popular Drugs in India: Heroin/ Brown Sugar (part 2)

September 23, 2012

[…this is a continuation of our blog series: “Most Popular Drugs in India.” Read our first post discussing Tobacco use in India]

The United Nations recently declared India as southern Asia’s biggest consumer of heroin, in a comprehensive drug report. Often thought of as an ideal transit point for countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Nepal, most of the drugs in southern Asia don’t make it out of our country.

man feeling depressed with his face in his handsAccording to the Times of India, of the 40 tonnes of heroin produced in south Asia, nearly 17 tonnes are consumed in India. And with a trade value estimated to be $1.4 billion, heroin has become much more than a bad habit.

Many heroin users take brown sugar rather than the more purified form of heroin. The substance averages about 20% pure heroin content. Although Brown sugar comes with a cheaper price tag, it is known to be more dangerous than heroin.

What is Heroin?

You may know the drug as heroin, but its street names include gib H, Dr Feelgood, smack, thunder, mud, skag and brown sugar. Heroin is derived from morphine and extracted from the poppy plant to create a powdery and powerful substance.

Adulterated forms of heroin, like brown sugar, are formed by mixing the drug with talcum powder, powdered milk, sugar and other substances. When heroin is mixed these powders the actual amount of the drug is often lost in concocting process, making the dose amount dangerous and possibly fatal.

How has Heroin Affected India?

Of the 17 tonnes of heroin in India, about eight are of Afghan origin, and the other nine are indigenously manufactured. Unofficially, there are close to 5 million people addicted to heroin in India. And the rising student population in some southern and western cities account for much of the country’s heroin use.

With so much heroin coming in and out of our country we have opened up the floodgates for other illicit drugs to come pouring in with it. In the last decade, the demand for cocaine and prescription drugs has jumped dangerously high.

What are the dangers of Heroin?

One of the heroin’s greatest dangers is satisfaction. This may not look threatening at first glance, but satisfaction is every drugs greatest tool.

Heroin elicits an immediate, and intense “high” (a euphoric feeling, or intense rush) that lasts only for a few minutes. Once the feeling passes, the user often wants nothing else except to feel that “high” again.

A constant “need” for higher and higher doses comes next. And as the addict feeds his addiction in advanced quantities, often tolerance is developed. Suddenly, more and more of the drug is needed to receive a “quality high.”

Heroin affects your health on a number of levels. Some obvious signs include:

  • Runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, chills
  • Mental confusion
  • Staggered gait
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Calmness (when high) and restlessness (when not high)

Some of the health effects include:

  • Coma
  • Death
  • HIV and other diseases resulting from infected needles
  • Collapsed veins
  • Infections

What needs to be done about Heroin in India?

A lot.

“Everybody knows about it, but nobody does anything to stop it,” a Punjab shopkeeper said referring to drug abuse to the NY Times. This is drug addiction in our country encapsulated in a sentence.

Politicians use drugs to gain votes. People share needles to attain risky highs. Drugs are available everywhere. Illegal deaddiction centres abuse the integrity of recovery. But very little is done about the problem.

Every problem starts and ends with people.

The problem of heroin was started years ago… but no one’s putting an end to it.

Read the first post in our series where we discuss the effects of Tobacco on India.