Heroin is all over the news in Houston, Texas, as well as nationally. Famous people, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, have died from an overdose of it. It is a controlled substance, and possession of it can get you into a lot of trouble. Manufacturing and distributing it can get you into more trouble. Unfortunately, heroin use has crept into mainstream America for young adults and parents too. Good people are getting drawn into the throes of addiction like never before.
If you have been arrested in the Houston metro area for possession of heroin, whether it was for personal use or otherwise, you need an attorney. The consequences for a conviction can be severe, not only in terms of a jail or prison sentence and a fine but in terms of your life after jail. A conviction means a criminal record, and a criminal record means trouble finding a job, securing housing, maintaining child custody, among other things. People charged with heroin possession are not limited to street kids or homeless persons; they are actors, teachers, professionals. They are people who need a good, strategic defense so they can return to their lives sober and productive.
Doug Murphy, Board Certified criminal law attorney, is located in Houston but represents clients throughout the larger metropolitan area and throughout Texas. He has more than 20 years of experience representing and defending clients and list of successful outcomes to prove it. He is the kind of attorney who will go to trial arguing on your behalf so that you have the best possible chance of securing your freedom and getting your life back without the burden of a criminal record.
What is heroin?
Heroin is an opioid drug. It is derived from morphine, which is a natural substance extracted from the seed pod of various opium poppy plants native to and grown in Southeast Asia, Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia.
To take the drug, users inject, smoke, or sniff it. Its initial use evokes that much-desired high sensation where users feel free and social.
Physical Appearance of Heroin
Heroin in its purest form is a fine white powder. Additives, however, change the color from white to rose gray, brown, and black.
There is also what's known as black tar heroin, which has an appearance completely different from what we usually picture when we think about heroin. Black tar heroin is just that: a dark, sticky substance akin to tar. Black tar is mostly produced in Mexico and is popular in Western cities, like Los Angeles, but is known to be in Houston. It is cheaper and faster to make, and as such, cheaper to purchase on the streets.
Common Street Names
Heroin is found readily on the streets, and it can be found by any of its given street names. Street names have gotten creative and are based on the drug's color, its origin, its effects on the user, famous people or characters, and its packaging.
- Black Eagle
- Black Tar
- Black Pearl
- Brown Crystal
- Brown Tape
- Brown Sugar
- Brown Rhine
- Red Rock
- Red Eagle
- Red Chicken
- White Stuff
- White Nurse
- White Junk
- White Stuff
- White Nurse
- White Junk
- Chinese Red
- Mexican Mud
- Brain Damage
- Dead on Arrival
- Joy Flakes
- Nice and Easy
- Rush Hour
- Sweet Dreams
- Aunt Hazel
- Al Capone
- Bart Simpson
- Big Harry
- Dr. Feelgood
- Big Bag
- Blue Bag
- Blue Star
- Brick Gum
- Nickel Deck
- Big H
- Hell Dust
- Nose Drops
What are the Effects of Heroin?
The desired effects of heroin are its effects on the brain. Once snorted, injected, or smoked, the drug makes its way to the brain quickly where it binds to cells, especially those cells responsible for feelings of pain and pleasure and for controlling heart rate, sleep, and breathing. It is usually the feeling of a “rush” linked to pleasure that
There are short- and long-term effects of heroin that every user should know.
- Dry mouth
- Warm, flushed skin
- Heavy sensation in arms and legs
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe itching
- Clouded mental function
- Collapsed veins (due to injection of the drug)
- Damaged internal nose tissue (due to snorting the drug)
- Stomach cramping
- Liver and kidney disease
- Lung complications
- Mental disorders (e.g., depression)
- Sexual dysfunction (males)
- Irregular menstrual cycles (females)
The drug is highly addictive. It breaks down the body's immune system, weakening the individuals over time. Withdrawal from heroin can be extremely painful, in many cases requiring medical supervision -- it is not something done easily alone.
There are other risks involved, too, like the additives used in the powdered formed (e.g., sugar and starch, which can clog blood vessels), sharing equipment (e.g., needles, which can lead to contraction of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis), experiencing impaired judgment and faculties (e.g., driving under the influence of heroin can lead to accidents), and overdosing on the drug, which can lead to life-threatening circumstances and/or death.
Why do so many people use heroin, including actors who have died from its overdose? There are many factors that go into a person's introduction to and use of heroin, but one factor that is alarming is this: prescription opioids.
Prescription pain medicine like OxyContin and Vicodin are opioids with effects similar to heroin. Research has been conducted on these types of prescriptions medicines, and the evidence is in: nearly 80 percent of American who use and misuse heroin report they first used and then abused prescribed opioids for pain.
How is heroin classified under federal law?
Federal law classifies all controlled substances into drug schedules as outlined by the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. There are five schedules and each controlled substance is assigned to one of the schedules according to its level of addiction and medical value. Schedule I drugs are those that are highly addictive but have no medical value associated with it today. As such, Schedule I drugs are highly regulated and -- if found in possession of one of these drugs and subsequently convicted -- result in harsher sentences.
Heroin is a Schedule I drug. But the drugs that may have led to a heroin addiction in the first place, Hydrocodone (used in Vicodin) and Oxycodone (OxyContin), which are legal in prescription form, are assigned to Schedule II. Schedule II drugs are still highly regulated and can result in harsher sentencing, but are not as harsh as Schedule I drugs.
How is heroin classified under Texas law?
The State of Texas classifies drugs differently than they are under federal law. Each controlled substance is placed into one of six drug penalty groups as outlined by the Texas Controlled Substances Act.
The six penalty groups are:
- Penalty Group 1
- Penalty Group 1A
- Penalty Group 2
- Penalty Group 2A
- Penalty Group 3
- Penalty Group 4.
Each drug penalty group has its own sentencing range, with the most severe sentencing reserved for Penalty Group 1 drugs and the least severe reserved for Penalty Group 4 drugs. Unlike the federal schedules, heroin is placed in the same Texas penalty group as oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (used in Vicodin) if over 300 mg.
Possession of a small amount of a penalty group 1 drug is a felony. If you are convicted of possessing large amounts of heroin, you can be looking at a maximum of 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Houston Heroin Drug Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for possession of heroin, Doug Murphy is one of Houston's top drug defense lawyers. Board Certified in criminal defense law, he is committed to smart, aggressive criminal defense. To discuss your case with one of Houston's premier drug attorneys, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation today.