Heroin is derived from the morphine alkaloid found in opium. Opium is a highly addictive narcotic drug acquired in the dried latex form the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) seed pod. Traditionally the unripened pod is slit open and the sap seeps out and dries on the outer surface of the pod. The resulting yellow-brown latex, which is scraped off of the pod, is bitter in taste and contains varying amounts of alkaloids such as morphine, codeine, thebaine and papaverine. Other synthetic or semisynthetic opium derivatives include fentanyl, methadone, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
In the U.S., opium is rarely grown and cultivated for illicit commercial use. Most supplies in the U.S. come from Latin American and Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the worldwide capital of opium cultivation, leading to about three-quarters of the world’s heroin supply