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Thread: Heroin: Missed Vein

  1. #1
    figuring it all out
    Join Date
    Jan 2016

    Heroin: Missed Vein

    So I'm trying to work something out with my story. Does anyone know what would happen to someone if they were injected with heroin but missed the vein? I've done some google searches and found small pieces of information, like how it would still take effect but would take longer and the injection site could become irritated, but I'm trying to figure out more specifics. I have a character that needs to die and have it look like an accidental overdose. I tried to look up ways to get him knocked out so the protagonist could safely set him up and find the vein and all that, but I cant figure out a way to knock him out without the drug used to put him to sleep showing up on a toxicology report. So if you have any ideas on that, that would also be helpful. So for now I just have the protagonist stabbing him with a needle of heroin, but I don't know how effective this would be in killing him. I figured (if it did kill him) she could set him up after he is dead and make it look like he injected himself and missed the vein, but again, not sure how realistic this is. Any opinions?

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    LA & TX
    Lace the heroin with a sufficient amount of fentanyl . . . a missed vein won't matter. If you must render the victim defenseless or near unconscious first, use a stun-gun.
    Last edited by ironmikezero; 12-05-2017 at 08:59 PM. Reason: added stun gun link

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW neandermagnon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Dorset, UK
    I don't get why the missing the vein thing is important. You want the character to die from a heroin overdose and make it look like an accident. First of all, is this character a drug addict? A common way for addicts to die accidentally is if they get hold of heroin that is more pure than usual (dealers generally cut it with other crap to make it go further and sell for more) so they think they're injecting the same amount as usual but really it could be twice as much or more of actual heroin. If this is a murder plot, then the murderer could give the addict pure heroin, knowing what will happen. It would look like an accident and there would be nothing on the toxicology report besides the heroin.

    If they're into drugs but have never taken heroin, then it's not hard to accidentally take too much. The murder can give them a fatal dose, pretending to be a "nice, friendly" neighbourhood drug dealer who's just showing them how to have a good time. It's unlikely they'd inject it though.

    It's not hard to kill someone by overdosing them on heroin, whether it's injected into the vein or the muscle. Too much slows your breathing to the point that you stop breathing. They would lose consciousness long before that point. How quickly it acts doesn't matter. If it's a high enough dose it will kill.

    AFAIK most heroin users don't inject directly into the vein unless/until they're really heavily hooked (drug addiction causes you to need more and more of the drug to get the same effect so people progress from taking it without injecting (e.g. chasing the dragon) to injecting, to injecting it in the vein, etc).

    If someone is trying to murder someone who isn't a heroin addict with heroin, it will show up on a toxicology report and the fact that they're injecting themselves with heroin doesn't fit with their personality and lifestyle will be noticed, and it would be unusual for first time heroin users to inject it. If someone who isn't into drugs suddenly dies from a heroin overdose then, especially through an injection, then it's not going to look like an accident. Even if the murderer is going for the police believing they were secretly an addict, there would be all kinds of signs of addiction that the person doesn't have that would make it not look like an accident.

    If they're already an addict, then giving them pure heroin would probably be the best way to murder them, unless they have Keith Richards in the 1970s* level of tolerance.

    *to be fair on him, he gave up decades ago. But if someone is a long term heroin addict with enough money to buy as much as they want they will build up epic levels of tolerance and survive doses that would kill other people. Their daily dose just to feel normal might be enough to kill several non-addicts.
    Last edited by neandermagnon; 12-04-2017 at 11:23 PM.
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW MaeZe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Quote Originally Posted by neandermagnon View Post
    AFAIK most heroin users don't inject directly into the vein unless/until they're really heavily hooked (drug addiction causes you to need more and more of the drug to get the same effect so people progress from taking it without injecting (e.g. chasing the dragon) to injecting, to injecting it in the vein, etc).
    Not sure where you got that from but I assure you, heroin is a drug mostly injected into a vein, including when people start using. It's rarely snorted because the things it is often cut with are not pleasant when inhaled.

    Addicts that can't find a vein will often skin pop.

    If one has enough man-power to overwhelm the victim, you can get in a big antecubital vein without too much difficulty. But I don't know why you can't knock your vic out with other drugs. Accidental ODs often happen because people mix drugs. Alcohol with a sedative sneaked in would be a reasonable scenario. Also as was suggested above, if this is in the current era, add some fentanyl to the heroin, that is happening more and more now.
    Last edited by MaeZe; 12-05-2017 at 12:24 AM.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW MDSchafer's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by thisiskortny5 View Post
    So for now I just have the protagonist stabbing him with a needle of heroin...
    I'm a nurse, I start IVs every day I work. I highly doubt I could stab someone with a needle and get it in the right place. It's not an easy thing to do, and when someone is fighting you it's almost impossible to get right.

    Honestly, depending on what part of the country you're in, there could be two to three heroin overdoses a day in a county. They also come in waves when people do things like mix fentanyl in with the heroin. Right now it's more in the Northeast, but it's been spreading south and west for years now, and we don't look that closely at them. Honestly, if you want to murder someone and can slide a needle into a vein it's not a bad way to go about it right now.

    Most of the time the families are aware of the person's addiction, even if they're in denial about it, but not always There have been more than a few times where the family will deny, deny, deny and deny that their relative ever used, but ya'know, they've got track marks up and down their arms and needed Narcan.

    One thing that works in your favor is there is no such thing as a typical overdose. Phillip Seymore Hoffman was found dead with an actual needle still in his vein, and that's not uncommon. My paramedic friends tell me that probably 40 percent of the time they come across OD patients that there are kids within 15 feet of the user. People are found OD'd in bathrooms at work, home, school, their cars (one of the more popular choices) on the street, Starbucks, camping, dog parks, basically wherever people do things.

    Ya'know.... now that I've thought about it. If you really wanted to try and get away with it you have the murder slip them something that will either knock them out or make them super wosey. Then, once they're relaxed and asleep you put the needle in the vein, inject it and they'll never regain consciousness. If say ativan and heroin show up in the tox screen it wouldn't be a red flag, because you'd just assume those were the two meds the victim was addicted to.

  6. #6
    figuring it all out
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    The killer would need to make sure that the victim was already dead before anyone found the body. Narcan is amazingly effective and can save someone who would otherwise be a lost cause, so the attacker can't just shoot a lethal dose and be able to trust that the victim will die with certainty.


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