To make any opiate — from prescription painkillers to heroin — you need the goo that comes from opium poppy seeds. But recently, researchers from Stanford released a report saying they managed to create the drugs without the plants in a lab.
Using genetically altered yeast, the scientists were able to convert sugar into hydrocodone, the active ingredient of the narcotic painkiller, Vicodin. They also used another yeast strain to make a key compound in oxycotin and morphine.
The advancement is great news for securing a cheap supply of the drugs and could pave the way to developing other pharmaceuticals. But of course, many are worried the technology could hit the streets.
The team, however, said there are strong limitations to pulling this off in your kitchen. First, it took 20 different genes to produce the yeast, including genes from rats, bacteria and other poppies.
Plus, the team was only able to produce miniscule amounts of the drugs — and they say they’re about 2 years away from figuring out how to scale the process up. And because of the expertise and equipment needed for production they say home-brewed opiates is, at least for now, not possible.
UPDATE 2017: If you found this page because you are struggling with opiate addiction, please know that you are not alone. Drug addiction sucks. It can swallow you whole. But there are ways out. Please talk to a doctor or counselor about getting on Vivitrol or Suboxone to help you transition off narcotics with minimal pain. Then connect with others through NA or AA. Talk to your friends and family. Shame thrives in the darkness and dies in the light. There are many treatment options out there that can help. Stay strong!
If you found this because you are a drug dealer, please consider a new path. Let your mark on the world be one that is positive. Don't spread misery.