Diary: I can’t believe how many people ask this question. It is by far the most popular search on Google that brings readers to this site. I wonder if The Australian Ecstasy Diaries or The Australian Speed Diaries have a lot of internet traffic from searches for “What does ecstasy/speed feel like?”.
Heroin has always had a certain mystique about it. The promise of being served up some heavenly bliss with lashings of risk taking and illegality. Hardcore excitement will always attract a crowd and heroin is no exception.
Why are so many people tempted by this drug? It’s not like we haven’t been warned about the possible consequences. Most of what we have read, if not all of it has told us to stay away, that the risk of overdose is high, that it ruins lives and is highly addictive. Yet, even with all these warnings, millions of people over the years have made the decision to use it which we sometimes read about in the news. Overdoses, ambulances, wasted lives, parents in despair, you’ve seen the headlines. So again ... why?
If you ask the moralists or religious leaders, people who use heroin are trying to cope with some major problem in their life. Rednecks and conservatives will tell you it’s because they’re dole bludgers. The government won’t actually tell you why but at some stage during their long rant, will promise to be “Tough on Drugs” and increase penalties for drug dealers who sell within 25 km of any school for disabled children with learning difficulties who have students enrolled with eating disorders. The media will tell you that according to Betty Jones, a long time resident of Malvern, there’s a new drug scourge sweeping the middle class suburbs called the “heroin epidemic”. Piers Akerhead will blame Kevin Rudd. Miranda the Devine will tell you it’s because they don’t drink enough booze and Andrew Bolt will deny that anyone wants to try heroin and it’s just a left wing conspiracy to get more money from the rich. Not many though, will even consider that it may just be enjoyable? Face it, mankind has always taken mind altering drugs since the beginning of history. Why would it be any different now?
What do you think? Have you ever had a jonesy for a taste of hammer? Are you one of those who typed into Google, what does heroin feel like and ended up here? Do you have a friend who has tried it and lived to tell the story? Or are you a seasoned user who is curious about someone else’s experience?
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid drug synthesized from morphine, a derivative of the opium poppy. In simple terms, it is morphine processed with a chemical called, acetic anhydride which allows it to cross over the blood-brain barrier almost instantaneously where it is processed in the brain as morphine. Morphine does not give the same, intense high like heroin for some reason and is probably why most opiate addicts prefer heroin if a good batch is available. Morphine is popular because it is usually pharmaceutical quality and not cut with fillers like heroin often is. When heroin is scarce and the quality is low, many users tend to seek out legal opiates like morphine, OxyContin and Hydrocodone. But in the US and Europe, heroin is becoming cheaper as to compete with the growing trend for pharmaceuticals.
What Does Heroin Feel Like?
My previous articles, What Does Heroin Feel Like part I & II, I tried to give you a snapshot of what goes through someone’s mind whilst on heroin. It’s very hard to describe the feeling heroin gives you and there are many factors like dose, purity, tolerance, frame of mind, last usage etc. Heroin can be intense at first if injected or smoked but will slowly dissipate and a sleepy, comfortable feeling takes over. You will undoubtedly go on the nod (nodding off to sleep).
The heroin high has a certain smell to it which seems to come at the back of your throat and nose. It’s strange because I’m not quite sure where it actually is but I can smell and taste it. Most users I have spoken to can smell or taste it as well. The strangest thing about the heroin smell is that without it, heroin just isn’t the same. I can always tell when someone has tried to pass off a dummy dose because there’s no unique smell to it. The heroin smell changes over time and every once in a while, you will be reminded of how heroin once felt by a familiar smell.
An old dealer of mine who didn’t use would give me samples to test before he bought a batch to sell. I would rate them out of ten for him. On one occasion he had a sample that he claimed was 100% pure. He was really wary to let me try it but I did my best to quell his fears. That’s the sort of caring person I am! Anyway, I had half of what I usually sampled which was a quarter of my normal dose. Within seconds I knew I was about to pass out and overdose. I told him to ring an ambulance as I sat on the floor waiting to black out and possibly die. My head was exploding from the inside, pushing waves of pressurised blood to my face. My heart was pumping like a massive hydroelectricity power station that caused my skin to sting. I was eventually able to stand up although the dizziness was giving me nausea but the thought of dying on my kitchen floor wasn’t very appealing. My dealer was also having a melt down of his own as he desperately tried to help without knowing what to do. After a minute or so of this, the feeling started to subside quickly. Five minutes later and I felt nothing at all. Afterwards, in the post-mortem discussion, I had to tell him some bad news about my potential overdose - it wasn’t heroin. He wasn’t convinced but I knew because there was no smell. I still don’t know what it was but it certainly wasn’t any mind altering drug especially heroin.
When you overdose on heroin, it is instantaneous. You don’t feel it creep up on you and there’s a warning. You are sitting somewhere injecting one minute, fully alert, then you are waking up sometime later... that’s if you’re lucky.
The effects of heroin change over time. The first few doses, you get that similar euphoria of waking up in a hospital after some operations. It reminded me of pethadine after having a barium meal. Probably because of the clinical smell and taste in my throat. The pleasure factor is partly from the uniqueness of it’s effect - a clinical feeling combined with an intense euphoric, semi-dream state. But all good things must come to an end. After the initial experiences, heroin goes from absolutely fucking amazing to just fucking amazing. And that’s when the first cravings begin. Soon, you’re skipping out on visiting friends or going to the gym so you can score. The cravings are mainly in your head as you chase that heavenly feeling and of course, that smell and taste. It’s probably why using heroin is described as having a “taste”. The world is truly an amazing place at this stage when your high on hammer. Trying to describe this feeling is almost impossible. It doesn’t make you extra friendly or super confident like amphetamines or alcohol and it doesn’t force you to sheepishly hide from social situations. You don’t hallucinate or feel any extra sexual excitement like ecstasy or LSD. It’s just a heroin high.
If this is where you are now, it’s time to stop. You will start to go through some incredible withdrawals unless they have already started. If you ever take any advice in your life, this is the advice you should be taking. STOP NOW! You don’t have to stop forever, just take a break until your tolerance subsides.
From here, it’s all downhill. You will never experience those original feelings again. Sometimes it comes close but this will just spur you on even more. The feeling from heroin starts to make you drowsy and you will nod off at the most unexpected times. Most of those still using at this point are now addicts and probably on methadone. That’s the end of heroin as you knew it. The best part of it will only last 5-10 minutes and then you will just experience a sleepy but mild feeling of contentment.
A Blast From God Himself
Just recently and against the norm, I had an amazing hit of heroin that felt like nothing I had experienced for many, many years. It was comfortably intense at first and lasted nearly 8 hours. This is what could be called the perfect hit. Most experienced users will tell you that a really good hit of quality heroin is usually followed with a sharp but bearable pins & needles feeling. I didn’t feel this sensation but still got the rush that I often experienced when I first started using. Personally, I am not completely convinced that pins & needles are just due to strong heroin as I have experienced them previously on morphine that had not been filtered properly and even with some low grade heroin. But none of this mattered at this stage as I sat down and closed my eyes.
The initial high lasted for about 20 minutes before I was able to concentrate on anything worthwhile. I had a busy day with work and was actually glad to come down a bit. But as usual, not long after the first incredible feeling had subsided, I started to miss it.
Four hours later and I was still going strong. I had not taken my morphine pills that morning with my last dose being over 20 hours ago but the heroin was holding me well. I realised that heroin was much “lighter” than Slow Release Oral Morphine (SROM) but it didn’t deal with my pain issues as well. I had no depression and was able to function much better than usual. The major drawback was nodding off ... not that I’m complaining. This was the first time in quite a while that I had so much enthusiasm. For some people like me, heroin gives them a kick to get up and do things which is the opposite effect for most. I was ripping into my work and got quite a bit achieved. I made several phone calls that I had been delaying and even hassled a client about a late invoice. The most pleasing aspect of my day on heroin was the return of my interest in computer technology. I had bookmarked a bunch of websites with some interesting ideas and technologies for my business and I got to finally go through them. One of them is being implemented now.
Good For Depression?
In the end, my heroin experience was really positive. It may seem a bit odd that I am writing a glowing report on using heroin but compared to my usual day of erratic depression, on and off pain issues and trying to live a normal life, it was like a breath of fresh air. Ironically, there has been a recent surge in doctors calling for opiates to used more for depression. It may not be for everyone as the risk of addiction is very high as tolerance levels keep rising. What about those like me who have to take buckets of opiates everyday? Or those on methadone which is well known for depression? Opiates offer something unique compared to other anti-depression medication. They instantly make you content or god forbid, even happy. Isn’t that the crux of depression ... not feeling happy anymore? If the newer SSRIs, SNRIs, NRIs, NDRIs, SSREs or more traditional Tricyclic anti-depressants don’t work, what are the alternatives? I would suggest that maybe opiates need to looked into more. That is of course that drug hysteria doesn’t get in the way as usual.