The intention of this report is to broaden the scientific knowledge on Heroin on the brain and therefore a Heroin/opioid consumers physical appearance.

Physical appearance is important to society, for an individual's purpose. Self dignity and respect is most meaningful in overall society. For instance if a person doesn't have respect for themselves why should others? Looking presentable is more of a self conscious concern, as looking the part is how the public give their opinion on each individual. Drug abusers are usually singled out because it is easy to tell when they are intoxicated. On a physical level, using Heroin mostly impacts the skin as the users hallucinate they have bugs underneath their skin and constantly pick and scratch at it, leaving them with scarred and battered skin. Weight Loss is also affected during the use of Heroin because users don’t eat as they forget and therefore constantly lose weight as Heroin is extremely addictive. 

This report will specify the way Heroin is made, chemical properties of the drug and also key factors of Heroin on the brain and from there, physical appearance.
Images are represented for the synthesis of Heroin from Morphine, the chemical structure and brain receptors given, Heroin use.


Before Morphine is made into Heroin it is used for legal medicinal use in hospitals for treatment of surgeries or highly painful injuries. To create Morphine, the poppy bud is sliced vertically open for a milky substance known as ‘opium’ to get drawn out by the sun. The Opium is then wiped with a gauze towel and the gauze is set out to dry. Shortly after, the gauze is put into a ladle and set over a fire (heat) and the Opium is drained out of the gauze into the ladle, Only the Opium liquid is left. The heating process is repeated, until the liquid forms into a brown gum which is Morphine.
 From using this method, Morphine is then reacted with Acetic anhydride (ethanoic anhydride) to form Heroin. This process is represented in figure 1.

Figure 1: heroin from morphine. Retreived from

The scientific name for Heroin is Diacetylmorphine. Diacetylmorphine is a white crystalline powder that is odorless and produces a bitter taste. Its molecular formula is C21H23NO5 and has a molecular weight of 369.4 g/mol. Diacetylmorphine has a melting point of 173 °C and boiling point at 272-274°C. Diacetylmorphine has a water solubility of 600 mg/L (at 25 °C). When Diacetylmorphine is exposed to air for a long period of time it changes from a white colour to a pink.

Figure 2: chemical structure of Heroin. Retrieved from

As well as the classic injection method, Diacetylmorphine can be snorted and smoked. Diacetylmorphine can be injected through an arm into a vein or a muscle, it can be smoked in a pipe, snorted into the nasal cavity, or smoked as a cigarette. 
Shortly after injecting Diacetylmorphine, users report that they feel a rush of euphoria, dry mouth and warm flushing of the skin. After this initial euphoric feeling, users will enter a state that is alternating between drowsiness and wakefulness. Those who snort or smoke Diacetylmorphine may not feel the immediate intense rush that injection users feel, as it takes longer to enter the bloodstream and have complete access to the brain. Users will still experience the same effects. When inhaling anything, whether it’s air (oxygen) or smoked Heroin, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream via the respiratory system. The oxygen that is  inhaled, drifts through the bronchioles, which is then where oxygen is placed in many alveoli sacs. The alveoli is where gas exchange occurs, allowing clean oxygen to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the capillaries which surround the alveoli sacs.

Diacetylmorphine affects the brain, liver and heart after long term use of the drug. Taking Diacetylmorphine can result in extreme injury, overdose causing death or instant death. The bacteria from unsterilised needles begin to clump up on the heart valve leading to valve replacement or in worst cases heart failure, than death.
Many additives in street Diacetylmorphine include substances that result in clogging of blood vessels that lead to the liver, or blockage of blood flow that can cause infection or disease. 

Diacetylmorphine is an opioid drug that mimics the brain’s natural chemical Endorphin (natural Morphine made from within the body), which is designed to enhance any pleasurable feelings, reduce pain and modulate mood. Diacetylmorphine blocks pain signals being sent up and down the spinal cord, therefore blocking physical pain. Having taken any opioid drug it lowers the heart rate of a person, in which it can lead to complete stoppage of breathing or also permanent brain damage. The opioid drug depresses breathing by changing neurochemical activity in the brainstem, where automatic body functions such as breathing and heart rate is controlled for the body.

 From when Diacetylmorphine is taken it stimulates the neurotransmitter Dopamine causing sensation of pleasure therefore apart of the ‘rush’. Dopamine is apart of the brain's reward system to teach the body when a good or pleasurable feeling occurs to remember it. Taking Diacetylmorphine can also unnaturally cause the brain to release up to 10 times the amount of Dopamine.

Diacetylmorphine rapidly binds to, and activates the the mu-opioid receptor. A type of a neurotransmitter is Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA naturally regulates the amount of dopamine released into the brain. Diacetylmorphine suppresses GABA and therefore too much Dopamine would be released into the brain and body.

figure 3: brain receptors on heroin. Retrieved from


The human body will become excessively dependant on Diacetylmorphine after each use, as the brain remembers the rush that is contributed from the drug and therefore craves it more and more. When the drug is taken regularly, the brain becomes attached, therefore will struggle working on its own without routine use. Given the body craves Diacetylmorphine, higher doses are demanded to provide the same rush. The rush/high only lasts for a short 15-30 minutes before a user becomes drowsy.

As soon as Diacetylmorphine is consumed into the body, besides its effect on the brain and organs, it also affects the person’s physical appearance. A common short term symptom from using Diacetylmorphine is undilated pupils, also known as pin point pupils. Many drugs including Diacetylmorphine interrupt the flow of saliva, leading to ‘dry mouth’ condition. By injecting Diacetylmorphine, track marks from inserting the needle through the skin into the bloodstream may appear. This can also cause collapsed and/or scarred veins from using a high quantity of the drug multiple times. Another short term effect is drowsiness after the rush has taken place.

A long term effect of using Diacetylmorphine is scabs and scars appearing on the skin. This appears because users hallucinate that there are bugs underneath their skin. They may then try to cut them out using a utensil or pick at them with their nails, either way, scarring their skin. Rotting of teeth can be caused from vomiting. A user can buy or make a bad batch of the drug, causing digestive irritation. A bad batch or coming down off the drug (going into rehabilitation) can cause vomiting, which brings up stomach acid alongside food and bile (bile is produced by the liver). Stomach acid wears away the enamel that acts as a protector for your teeth, this causes discolouring (from staining) and rotting of teeth. 

Majority of users often appear thin or skinny as taking most drugs, including Diacetylmorphine, causes a loss of appetite and therefore moderate to extreme weight loss. Due to an overdose of Diacetylmorphine, the body can immediately shut down, causing panic (sweats, shakes etc), paralysed body functions and/or a coma. In worst of cases, death may occur. 

As far as being socially accepted goes, performing on drugs is not accepted. These short and long term effects are easily recognised from majority of others who are not addicted or have not consume Diacetylmorphine or other opioids.   


Throughout this report, the drug Heroin or scientifically known as Diacetylmorphine has been studied from how it is synthesised with Morphine and ethanoic anhydride, to how it enters the bloodstream and into the brain. It covers the effects of Diacetylmorphine on the brain as well as physical appearance of the user. Consuming doses of Diacetylmorphine can cause multiple long term physical effects that can or can’t be seen such as collapsed and/or scarred veins, paralysed body functions and more. Additionally, there are  short term effects such as lose of weight, track marks and more. The effects of Heroin on the brain can range from extreme life threatening disease to death. 
Heroin effects the physical appearance of the body in ways such as scarring on the skin, lose of weight and rotting or discolouring of teeth, which can prevent the process of a growing or any relationship or an individual's mental state.

Public Education Piece

For my public education piece I wrote a newspaper article to advise the general public of the information showed in this report.


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