What's Inside: Street Heroin
- By Patrick Di Justo
Pharmaceutical-grade heroin. Marketed by Bayer as an over-the-counter cough suppressant in 1898, it’s fairly easy to make with raw opium, some chemicals, and basic lab equipment. The percentage of diacetylmorphine in street heroin can vary based on geographic source; South American wholesale has been falling from a high of 88 percent in 2003. Street purity in the US has been around 35 percent in recent years.Caffeine
When added in the lab, this results in hard thumbnail-sized “crystals” of heroin, which can be smoked like crack. Add it to powdered heroin and the mixture will vaporize at a lower temperature, making it easier to chase the dragon.Noscapine
Heroin got its name from the German word heroisch, meaning heroic, perhaps because of its ability to suppress coughs. The opium byproduct noscapine may also help: It’s believed to act on sigma receptors, which can regulate the cough reflex. Noscapine is also being looked at for its promising anticancer powers. Perhaps the reason Keith Richards is still with us?Mannitol
A sugar alcohol that increases osmotic pressure in the intestines, making it an effective laxative. Heroin is a wicked constipator—is the mannitol a thoughtful gift from your friendly neighborhood dealer? Hardly. Adding white powdery stuff to heroin lets him sell less drug for the same money.Monoacetylmorphine
Heroin is diacetylmorphine, which can spontaneously break down into this “mono” form. Due to a drug-testing scare in the 1990s, when people worried that eating a poppy-seed bagel would yield a positive result, some drug tests actually search for this compound.Acetaminophen
A key ingredient in Percocet and several migraine remedies but a potentially lethal adulterant in high doses. Heroin cut with acetaminophen is often sold as “cheese.”Papaverine
Raw opium is a goulash of compounds; badly processed street skag can retain many of them. This poppy alkaloid is useless to junkies because it won’t make them high, but it does have legitimate medical use as a vasodilator that relaxes smooth muscle, increasing blood flow.Quinine
Junkie lore says that dealers added this to the supply as a public service, after a malaria outbreak among needle-sharing users in the 1930s. Still found in low-quality junk, it has a bitter taste that mimics heroin’s (caveat emptor) and supposedly adds to the rush. But quinine is bad stuff to be injecting—it can cause blindness and has been a key factor in heroin ODs.Dextromethorphan
This cough syrup mainstay is known to reduce some effects of heroin detox (runny nose, twitching, insomnia). But a dealer’s job is not to make withdrawal easier; DXM may be here for its pharmacological effects—hallucinations and euphoria. Unwelcome bonus: At high doses, it can induce psychosis.
- Thumbnails:Okay, so these are my thumbnails. I was trying to sort of glamorize the articles concept and give it a pinup/tattoo theme, while making the girl look emaciated.
Final Black and White Sketch:
Ended up working on a cold press watercolor illustration board that was particularly difficult to get detail work but I managed to get it to look like I wanted. Probably will not use that board again.
Digital Color Comps:
I changed the text and layout a bit from the first one and I feel its more effective.