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What Makes Street Heroin So Dangerous?

Buying heroin on the street is dangerous for a number of reasons. In addition to the nature of the drug itself, the individual who purchases heroin from a dealer is also exposing himself to problems with law enforcement and keeping dangerous company.

The Dangers of Heroin on the Street: Purity

Buying heroin from a drug dealer on the street is a hit-or-miss affair. There is no Better Business Bureau for heroin dealers -- so many are able to sell inferior or dangerous products without repercussions. This is especially true in terms of purity. Sometimes, an individual may purchase heroin off the street that is either fake (baking powder is a common substitute) or is so weak and diluted that is has little or no effect on the user. More dangerous is heroin that is much more powerful than expected. An individual who uses too pure a form of heroin is highly susceptible to overdose – especially if they are novice users of the drug.

Street Heroin Cut with Foreign Substances

Street heroin may be cut with certain foreign substances in order to get more money out of a particular shipment, or to give the user a stronger sensation when using the drug. This can be a dangerous practice, and one that often leads to illness or heroin overdose and death for the heroin addict. A number of different additives are often used when cutting heroin, some of which are quite toxic. The most notorious of these additives is strychnine, a poison used in a number of other applications. Sometimes, additives such as chalk are part of the mix. These are dangerous because they do not dissolve in the bloodstream – leading to the clogging of important blood vessels.

Mixing Street Heroin with other Drugs

A large percentage of those individuals who die as a result of heroin use and abuse were using the drug in combination with other substances at the time. Most famously, John Belushi and Len Bias both died as a result of a “speedball” – a potentially lethal heroin and cocaine mix (that is smoked by the user). In addition to cocaine many people will become ill when mixing heroin with alcohol, crystal meth and other dangerous drugs.

Helping Someone with a Heroin Addiction

If you know someone who is buying and using heroin off of the street, it is important to reach out and help. Call for a drug intervention – and do everything you can to help that individual enter into a drug rehab program. Addiction treatment from a professional is the only way the individual can overcome the physical and psychological components of heroin addiction. Remember, heroin addicts do not seek help on their own – so it is up to loved ones to step in and lend a life-saving hand. Failure to do so could result in tragic consequences, like the family and friends of the student featured in this online report have certainly learned.

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