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Heroin - Research Paper Example

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Name Professor Course Date Heroin For many people, heroin may simply be a street drug that has created an industry worth billions of dollars, as well as a drug that has claimed countless number of human lives. However, in reality, heroin is one of the most well-known, most abused, and misunderstood drug (Moraes 1)…
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Download file to see previous pages When used in good hands, heroin is able to alleviate extreme pain for chronic or acute pain sufferers, especially since it is one of the most potent ones ever to be used in the medical industry (DuPont and Ford 181). In order to fully understand heroin, including its effects on the human body, the implications of its misuse, and how its industry has proliferated for a long time, all aspects regarding the drug would be enumerated and discussed to provide unbiased information about the drug. Chemistry and History of Heroin Heroin is the brand name given by the large German chemical company, Bayer, to the chemical diacetylmorphine, or its crystalline salt form (with hydrochloride) in 1898 (Brezina 5). The drug was initially artificially synthesized from raw opium by Augustus Matthiessen a German chemist, and he brought the process to London, England when he came to work as a lecturer at St. Mary’s Hospital (Carnwath and Smith 15). The process was further refined by his chief English assistant, the chemist C.R. Alder Wright in 1874, through the process of acetylation (Moraes 10). He was able to do this by boiling morphine in weak acetic anhydride. However, despite this discovery and other opiate drug derivatives Wright was able to synthesize, there were no recorded medical usages for all of them until some German companies were able to get hold of the production methods, some decades later. Diacetylmorphine and its crystalline forms were never marketed for human use until Bayer acquired its rights to the drug (Carnwath and Smith 16). It was originally made to replace morphine, and was marketed as its non-addictive or less-addictive form. The name was coined from the drug’s potential to have anti-tuberculosis effects, making it a “hero” for the sufferers of the lung malady. It was found to have cough-suppressing and pain-relieving properties, as well as not leaving harsh bodily harm to those that were prescribed it with, which made heroin a good choice as “gentle” drugs for chronic sufferers (Carnwath and Smith 138). Structure and Physical Characteristics Diamorphine, diacetylmorphine, and morphine acetate are all synonymous with heroin (Carnwath and Smith 16). It has a chemical formula of C21H23NO5, has a molecular weight of 369.4g/mol, or roughly 369.4 Daltons (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, EMCDDA). Its melting point is at 173?C, and boiling point at 273?C, which makes its detection in some surfaces easy, as water and other fluids would tend to boil out first before heroin would evaporate (Abadinsky 241). Because heroin is essentially a morphine derivative, it also has ring structures very much like its precursor, which has two diacetyl ester linkages at the third and sixth carbons. This structure allows the chemical to be easily modified, allowing for the different types of heroin being produced today (EMCDDA). Depending on the need for purity and the amount of heroin needed to be synthesized, different opiate extraction methods are deployed, which accounts for such forms as the salt or crystalline forms, and the brown, tar forms of heroin, which has far more opiate derivatives than the much purer crystalline form (Moraes 25). While heroin itself does not have any dire effects in the body, it does become metabolized into morphine, which attributes to it having similar effects to the said chemical once it gets taken into the body. Heroin Family of Chemicals ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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