What is Black Tar Heroin?

Black Tar Heroin | Recovery by the Sea

Black tar heroin is a specific kind of heroin that is much different in appearance than the more recognized powder form, which ranges from whitish to brown. Black tar heroin, as the name implies, is a dark, sticky, tar-like substance – moreover, there is an obvious physical difference between black tar versus powdered forms of heroin.

Black tar heroin is a less-refined form of heroin and is also commonly referred to as Mexican black tar heroin due to its primary origin being drug cartels in Mexico. Some South American and Asian countries have also exported black tar heroin, however, and it is frequently found West of the Mississippi River in both the U.S. and Canada. Large western cities such as Los Angeles experience significant black tar heroin use.

Because black tar heroin isn’t as pure as the powdered form, some users erroneously believe that it’s not as potent. It is just as strong as other forms of heroin, however, and this misconception can lead to an overdose, as the user assumes that they need more of the drug to experience the same high as regular heroin.

Effects of Black Tar Heroin

Heroin, as an opiate, mimics the same brain chemical naturally designed to control pain and enhance pleasure. Once heroin has reached the blood-brain barrier, it transforms back into morphine, which attaches to opiate receptors. The initial reaction to heroin exposure is euphoria.

Black Tar Heroin | Recovery by the SeaThe means used to administer heroin determine the speed in which the effects occur, but regardless of method, in a matter of seconds to two minutes, the user will experience a rush, followed by a feeling of warmth and euphoria. This response occurs because morphine is not a natural endorphin, and the messages sent through the body are very different and more powerful than a reaction to a natural endorphin.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), psychoactive chemicals such as heroin and other drugs can produce up to 10 times the amount of dopamine, a chemical in the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward.

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Because heroin use induces intense feelings of euphoria in users, this is by far the primary reason for its popularity. Other short-term effects include:

  • Heavy feeling in extremities
  • Clouded thinking/trouble concentrating
  • Flushed skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Contentment
  • Reduced anxiety and tension
  • Drowsiness
  • Apathy
  • Nodding off

In general, all heroin use results in the same effects. The main difference between black tar heroin and white heroin is the purity – black tar heroin is only around 30% pure, due to the faster, less refined process of making it. This process makes it cheaper to buy, but possibly more harmful in some ways.

Note: While white heroin is more refined and pure, it’s usually cut with other powders to keep the cost down, and these can include extremely dangerous and more powerful opioids such as fentanyl.

Anyone who uses black tar heroin will experience these effects, but unfortunately, these effects are also what makes the drug so addictive. Prolonged use of heroin increases the likelihood of an overdose or the development of other disorders and diseases related to its use.

Long-term effects of heroin use include:

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins and damaged tissue due to injections
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses
  • Constipation and stomach cramps
  • Liver, kidney, or lung disease
  • Mental disorders
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

How is Black Tar Heroin Used?

The most common methods of administration of black tar heroin are by smoking or injecting. In some cases, heroin can be snorted, but it’s not nearly as prevalent as other methods. Since heroin is easily dissolved in water, injection is particularly popular and is also the method that produces the most rapid and intense high.

Paraphernalia associated with injecting heroin include:

  • A spoon
  • Syringes
  • Aluminum foil
  • Lighters
  • Cotton balls
  • A belt to tie off the arm so that veins are more pronounced
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People who smoke heroin use a lighter to burn it after setting it on a small piece of aluminum foil. They will then inhale the vapors from the drug through a small funneling object, often a tube.

Health Risks

Black Tar Heroin | Recovery by the SeaThe use of any heroin, including black tar heroin, is detrimental to one’s health. Injecting the drug can result in venous sclerosis, a condition that causes the veins to narrow and harden. This effect can make it difficult for a user to inject heroin into that same vein in the future.

Eventually, veins may collapse altogether, forcing users to inject the drug elsewhere on the body, even into muscles. Bacterial infection is another serious health risk related to the use of black tar heroin. Infections, such as necrotizing fasciitis, can spread rapidly and be life-threatening in a very brief amount of time.

Botulism, another disease caused by bacteria, can also result from black tar heroin use – in fact, most patients treated for this condition are heroin users. If left untreated, wound botulism can result in paralysis or even death.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is a devastating and potentially deadly disease that wreaks havoc on the well-being of the person suffering as well as those close to him or her. Treatment usually beings with a clinical detox, a process in which the patient is supervised around-the-clock by medical professionals while the body rids itself of toxic substances.

After detox, patients are encouraged to undergo long-term addiction treatment, which is characterized by an integrated, evidence-based approach that includes behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

You can reclaim your life, free from heroin addiction, and experience the happiness and wellness that you deserve. Contact us as soon as possible and begin your journey to recovery today!

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