Quinine, extracted from the bark of the South American cinchona tree, has been a key drug in treating malaria for centuries. Indigenous Peruvians originally used the bark for fever treatment and quinine was isolated from it in the early 19th century. It combats malaria by inhibiting the growth of Plasmodium, the causative parasite, reducing fever and inflammation. Though its use has declined due to newer, more effective antimalarials with fewer side effects, quinine’s historical impact is significant. It aided colonial expansion in malaria-endemic areas and influenced tonic water’s development, where its bitterness was offset by sugar and carbonation for malaria prevention. Quinine’s discovery marked a central moment in medical history, especially in treating infectious diseases.

Quinine, primarily recognised for its role in malaria treatment, is also a component of tonic water. This substance is frequently used to adulterate heroin with its presence detected in approximately 68% of heroin samples from different cities. While small quantities like those in tonic water, are generally safe, higher doses can lead to serious side effects. These include headaches accompanied by chest pain, intense dizziness, rapid or forceful heartbeats, unexpected bruising or bleeding, significant back pain, symptoms of infection such as fever, chills and mouth ulcers, as well as the presence of blood in urine.

Street heroin is rarely pure with its actual heroin content ranging from 50% to 80% and it’s often cut or laced with other substances. Cutting refers to adding non-psychoactive fillers, while lacing involves adding substances to mimic or enhance heroin’s effects. Common adulterants include:

  1. Fentanyl
    A synthetic opioid, similar but cheaper than heroin, often leads to fatal overdoses due to its high potency.
  2. Quinine
    Known for treating malaria and found in tonic water, quinine is a common cutting agent in heroin, potentially causing severe side effects at high doses.
  3. Caffeine
    Less common but found in some heroin samples, caffeine can mask overdose symptoms, increasing the risk of death.
  4. Various Sugars
    Sucrose, lactose and mannitol are used as safer cutting agents with sucrose being the most common.
  5. Various Powders
    Talcum powder, chalk, flour and cornstarch are relatively harmless cutting agents but are still unsafe for injection.
  6. Impurities
    Due to varied lab conditions, heroin may include intermediate products, traces of painkillers or contaminants from manufacturing and handling.
  7. OTC Medications
    Over-the-counter medicines like aspirin are sometimes used, posing risks at high doses.
  8. Strychnine
    Found in rat poison, it acts as a stimulant at low levels but is dangerous.

Pure heroin poses a significant overdose risk as users often expect it to be cut. The unpredictability of street heroin’s composition points to the extreme dangers of its use and the critical need for effective addiction treatment.

    Addiction & Mental Health

    Treatment Services

    View More

    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specialising in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance our organisation facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualised care that addresses the physical, mental and social needs of patients.

    Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.

    Inpatient Rehab

    Rehab care is a good option if you are at risk of experiencing strong withdrawal symptoms when you try stop a substance. This option would also be recommended if you have experienced recurrent relapses or if you have tried a less-intensive treatment without success.


    If you're committed to your sobriety but cannot take a break from your daily duties for an inpatient program. Outpatient rehab treatment might suit you well if you are looking for a less restricted format for addiction treatment or simply need help with mental health.


    Therapy can be good step towards healing and self-discovery. If you need support without disrupting your routine, therapy offers a flexible solution for anyone wishing to enhance their mental well-being or work through personal issues in a supportive, confidential environment.

    Mental Health

    Are you having persistent feelings of being swamped, sad or have sudden surges of anger or intense emotional outbursts? These are warning signs of unresolved trauma mental health. A simple assesment by a mental health expert could provide valuable insights into your recovery.

    Finding the right rehab close to you is simple with WeDoRecover. Our network includes the finest rehab centers, ensuring personalised, quality care for your recovery needs. Let Gareth Carter and our empathetic team help guide you to a center that feels right for you, offering expert care and support. Start your healing today by choosing a rehab that's not just close to you, but also that truly cares about your loved ones recovery.

    Scroll to top
    Call Us Now