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The Major Medical Complications of Heroin Addiction

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Copyright ©, 1967, by The American College of PhysiciansThe American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1967;67(1):1-22. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-67-1-1
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An estimated 60,000 to 120,000 persons in the United States are addicted or habituated to opiates, the former defined as physical dependence on the drugs, the latter as chronic use without actual physical dependence. Additional thousands use opiates illicitly, intermittently or occasionally. Approximately 90% of the narcotic addicts or habitués take heroin, almost all the rest using hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), meperidine (Demerol®), metopon, morphine, codeine, or methadone (1). The heroin that reaches the illicit user usually originates in the mid-East or Far East, is converted into morphine, and then in illegal laboratories is acetylated to diacetylmorphine (heroin). From these laboratories, usually


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