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Article Summary

Purer Heroin Means Overdose Risk For Users

Purer heroin means overdose risk chances for anybody that is taking it will increase quite considerably and there are a number of reasons as to why this is the case. The problem; however, is that no user will be aware of how pure the heroin they are about to take actually is until it is too late, but what causes this rise in the purity at different times?

What Causes Higher Purity?

The actual reason is directly linked to how productive the poppy crop has been in any particular year because when it is has been quite abundant, then the amount of heroin that has been produced will generally outstrip most of the demand and, as a result, the heroin that hits the streets will be of a greater quality, and it does not have to mean that the price will increase either. The opposite is of course also true in that when the yield is lower than expected, the purity drops as people add other ingredients to it in order to bulk it up and get more for their money, so the heroin that is then taken will only contain a fraction of the actual drug itself compared to other years.

It is perhaps a good idea to briefly look at why this difference in the purity does result in a rise in the number of overdoses that occur. Over time, an user builds up a certain resistance to a drug and this means they need more of it in order to get the effect that they are looking for. Thanks to them taking more of the drug, which is cut with a number of other ingredients, they then take a large amount of the purer heroin when it hits the street, therefore, resulting in the body being unable to process the drug due to the quantity and the strength.

Purer Heroin Not the Only Cause for Overdose

It should be mentioned that the purer heroin is often not the only cause of an overdose and indeed the majority of drug users that have had an overdose will have often also had the likes of alcohol or other drugs already in their system and this purer shot of heroin has just been enough to put them over the top. Clearly there is also a permanent risk of having an overdose when taking heroin even when it is not as pure, but in these cases it is often due to a reaction to something that has been added to it rather than the drug itself.

Cutting Heroin Reduces Purity

The question as to why they do not just continue to cut heroin and reduce its purity with other ingredients when there is an abundance of it is a fair one to ask and the answer lies in the business side of this particular drug. Quite simply, the drug that is harvested in countries such as Afghanistan is always passed on to the first step in the chain at 100% purity, so it is the drug dealers that then add things to bulk it up in order to boost their profits from the quantity that they have available. In years where there is more than enough having been harvested the price to the first person drops, so this means they can make the same profit, and indeed slightly more as they do not have the additional cost of other ingredients to mix in, with less work. This does then mean that it makes perfect sense from a business point of view to keep it purer rather than go to all that trouble of reducing it.


In conclusion, it has to be said that an increase in the purity of heroin does mean that there is an increased risk of people having an overdose with this based entirely on the fact that the body is suddenly hit by a more concentrated from of the drug than it is used to having. This sudden increase results in the body being unable to deal with the drug in the normal way and the person then has an overdose with it being entirely accidental. The fact that the price remains relatively stable no matter the purity does also mean it is difficult to tell in advance if something will be purer or not, so in this respect every single time an user takes heroin it really is like Russian roulette and you just hope that this is not your time for the bullet.

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