China White heroin is the common street name given to a heroin substitute made from the synthetic opioid fentanyl, a fast-acting, and incredibly potent pain medication and anesthetic. Dealers sometimes lace China White into heroin to increase the drug’s strength, though this can result in imminent death for the credulous user. The powder may be snorted, or diluted with water and injected into a vein.
China White Heroin’s Effect on the Brain
Psychoactive substances, such as opioids like heroin and China White, activate the reward centers of our brains to an unnatural level and affecting the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. This effect, over time, can make users vulnerable to cravings for the substance, so much so that the person begins to obsess over its acquisition and use.
When this addictive behavior occurs, the person may begin to find less pleasure in other activities, including those necessary for life such as eating. The drug essentially hijacks the brain’s reward center so that nothing else will compete with the feelings of euphoria it provides.
Drugs like heroin act on the reward center of the brain, much like a delicious meal, except the response is far greater than any dopamine response that would otherwise occur naturally. The neurochemical action of China White is very similar to that of heroin, yet fentanyl is roughly 50 times more potent than heroin itself. As such, China White is extraordinarily addictive and produces nearly irresistible cravings and severe withdrawal symptoms, among other significant health problems.
Unfortunately, over time altering the dopamine reward system means that the body begins relying on the drug to activate dopamine release, and tolerance starts to develop. Drug tolerance is a condition in which the user needs ever-increasing amounts of the drug in order to achieve the desired effect. Regarding many substances, tolerance is a product of the body’s propensity toward “repeated exposure = reduced response.”
Moreover, someone who has been using China White may discover that heroin no longer induces the effect they seek, thereby compelling continued abuse of the more powerful and lethal alternative. Along with tolerance, dependence can develop.
When someone becomes physiologically dependent on a substance, his or her body can no longer adequately function if they try to quit or cut back. As such, discontinuation of the drug results in an array of highly unpleasant symptoms known as withdrawal. These symptoms often drive the person to return to use in an effort to avoid them.
Adverse Effects of China White
The impact of China White on the body is almost immediate, and even in small doses, it can depress breathing to potentially lethal levels. As a substance with properties that depress the central nervous system (CNS), it can rapidly prove deadly if used in conjunction with any other CNS depressant, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or even medications as seemingly benign as antidepressants.
In addition to respiratory depression, China White can also cause gastrointestinal problems, changes in heart rate, fainting, and prolonged fatigue or sedation. It increases a person’s risk of experiencing mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, confusion, and personality changes. It has also been known to impair the immune system and produce hallucinations.
China White has also been associated with overdoses that are frequently life-threatening, with thousands of deaths having been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the last few years alone. Some of these fatalities were linked to heroin that had been cut with fentanyl unbeknownst to the user. A dose of pure China White any higher than 2 mg can be fatal, and combining it with other psychoactive substances, particularly depressants, compounds this danger.
China White Withdrawal
The symptoms of withdrawal from China White are more intense than that of heroin and may include the following:
- Severe drug cravings
- Chills and muscle aches
- Profuse sweating
- Changes in appetite
- Accelerated breathing
Due to the severity of cravings and symptoms, a medically-managed detox is advised to help someone get through the physical and psychological changes safely while also preventing relapse. This detox process typically lasts anywhere from three days to a week.
Detox programs usually address these issues with pharmaceuticals such as other synthetic opioid drugs (e.g., buprenorphine), nutritional support, the treatment of any co-occurring mental disorders, and continuous emotional support. These are vital components of any comprehensive treatment program for China White addiction.
Midwood Addiction Treatment offers professional support and comprehensive, evidence-based treatment options to meet the unique needs of patients seeking help for an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Our team of addiction specialists is committed to providing each patient with the tools and support they need to achieve long-lasting sobriety and wellness. Contact us today and discover how we can help you begin your recovery journey and guide you every step of the way!