National Geographic: HEROIN

6.4/10 based on 21 votes

A Week in the Life of Heroin. National Geographic flexes their muscles and delve into painting a portrait of a week in the life of heroin. The documentary traces Heroin’s life span: from its birth in an Afghan lab to a police raid in North America. This documentary will take you to some dangerous corners of the world and shed light on why the face behind the drug are many farmers simply trying to eek out a living for their families.

Heroin is not a drug to be taken lightly. How does Heroin work on the brain? Heroin first enters the brain through ingestion, injection, or other method. It is rapidly converted to morphine by your body and clings to receptors. The heroin clings especially tightly to the receptors responsible for pain and pleasure. This dichotomy can give the user a feeling of euphoria mixed with a feeling of impending doom. The psychological and physical effects are often deadly.

Heroin enters the brain, where it is converted to morphine and binds to receptors known as opioid receptors. These receptors are located in many areas of the brain (and in the body), especially those involved in the perception of pain and in reward. Opioid receptors are also located in the brain stem—important for automatic processes critical for life, such as breathing (respiration), blood pressure, and arousal. Heroin overdoses frequently involve a suppression of respiration. A heroin overdose usually happens by suppressing the ability to breathe. The person chokes to death by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

National Geographic has done a solid job of showing the entire process: from the fields, to the lab, to the streets, to the buyer, and to the morgue or police station. But, this is not simply to scare people. The pleasurable effects cannot be denied. The importance of drugs to the Afghan economy cannot be denied, either.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • Cam

    First sentence: heroin is the deadliest drug on the planet. I completely disagree…methamphetamine and PCP are both far, far more devastating.

    • Luc

      Don’t forget the two most popular drugs of all time, the two legal drugs; Alcohol and Nicotine. They are also very strong contesters for the title of the most dangerous, damaging and addictive drugs. And they’re legal …

      If I’m not mistaken Opioid agonists such as diacetylmorphine release Dopamine indirectly. They release Endorphins which in turn release Dopamine, thus giving the strong feeling of pleasure yet also being very addictive psychologically as it triggers the reward center.

      • Cam

        You’re right, although I still think meth and PCP are more devastating. But yes, those two are serious drugs in and of themselves.

        I’m really surprised to hear that heroin releases dopamine. I always figured that the high was heroin itself, i.e. heroin activating endorphin receptors (which are pleasurable & rewarding in and of themselves). Interesting notion, though. I’ll have to do some research on that.

        • James

          It has been proven clinically that all substances that trigger dependencies in people increase the release of dopamine, in a specific area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. However not all of those substances increase dopamine levels in the brain in the same way.

          Some drugs imitate natural neuromediators and take their place on their receptors. Heroin, for example, binds to the receptors for endorphin (a natural “heroin-like” substance produced by the brain), while nicotine binds to the receptors for acetylcholine.

          Other substances increase the secretion of natural neuromediators. Cocaine, for example, mainly increases the amount of dopamine in the synapses, while ecstasy mainly increases the amount of serotonin.

          Still other substances block a natural neuromediator. Alcohol, for example, blocks the NMDA receptors.

    • Greekgirl

      hardly. Heroin destroys they steal from their own on a daily basis and tear their family apart.

    • Andy King

      Tobacco and alcohol kill more people than all drugs put together times twenty at least

  • Cam

    Also, I’m pretty sure heroin doesn’t release any dopamine in the brain. Firstly, dopamine is a phenethylamine, which have no relation to the opioid receptors. All heroin (diacetylmorphine) does is activate the endorphin (opioid) receptors, such as mu1 and mu2 receptors.

  • Roy

    The defining characteristic of our species is the ability to believe a cause will have a certain effect even when no such effect is visible. Watching human insanity, like the endless war on drugs, play out is like watching a fly continually bash into a window. Each time he strikes the pane he rebounds but he flies right back into it expecting a different effect from the same cause.

    Props to Greg and the Swiss Doctor for actually trying something different. Very inhuman of them.

  • 7tacoma6

    sure afghany drug lord on video then shipped to iran than picked up by a “usa broker” who is black. this doc is full of so much s**t. f***n sick of the brain wash!

    • bagelboy

      why is this scenario so unbelievable to you?

  • stephen johnson

    You’ve got the US army the British army, God knows how many other national forces in Afganistan & all this stuff still gets through ? You’ve got to wonder. Very strange.

  • Janmark Ahig

    I hope i can download it,

    I want to show it in our class documentary…

    XD …
    can you give me a download link?

  • Suleman

    Fire of God on these people and the people who use it.

  • Tim Lechowicz

    Get the CIA o stop importing it. Under the Taliban, Afgan heroin supplied 5 % of the world, now it’s 85 %. And America’s spooks have been the game changer. Karzai’s brother is the 2nd largest heroin trafficker in the world

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