Where did heroin originate?


Heroin was first synthesized from morphine in 1874 and became commercially available in 1898 when Bayer Pharmaceutical Company offered heroin as a cure for tuberculosis and morphine addiction. Both substances are derived from opium poppy plants, which began to be cultivated in Mesopotamia around 3400 B.C. Heroin, which looks like a white or brown powder, is an illegal drug in the United States.

Heroin was part of a cycle of addictive drugs in the 1800s. Opium addiction reached epidemic proportions in the 1850s, so morphine was introduced as a cure. When morphine became known as an addictive substance, Bayer marketed heroin as a cure for that malady. Around 1900, it was estimated as many as 250,000 people were addicted to opium in some form.

A second epidemic happened during the Vietnam War when enlisted soldiers became addicted to the substance because they were too young to buy alcohol on base. Opiate drugs were cheaply made by locals, who sold the drugs to soldiers.

Heroin, morphine and opium are made from refining the milk-like resin of poppy plants. Modern heroin comes from plants grown in Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Latin America and Mexico. Heroin is a popular illegal drug because of its fast-acting nature as the substance enters the bloodstream; it is faster than opium and morphine.

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