As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate our country, you may be looking to expand your knowledge about the drugs that are gripping the nation. Although abuse of prescription drugs has taken center stage in the media, heroin is still playing a huge role across the country.
Opioid addicts will do anything they can to get their hands on a fix, and black tar heroin is one of the cheapest and most widely available options out there. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about black tar heroin addiction and its effects on the body and mind.
What is Black Tar Heroin?
Heroin comes in two main forms: a white or brown powder, or a black, sticky substance known as ‘black tar’. The powdered form is often called ‘pure’ heroin.
Some common street names for black tar heroin include:
- Mexican Tar
- Big H
Black tar heroin has been around for more than 100 years, but has only been popular in the U.S. since the 1970s.
How is Black Tar Heroin Made?
You may be wondering ‘how is black tar heroin made?’. All forms of heroin start with the poppy plant, and are processed to increase the strength. Black tar heroin is a less-refined version of the drug than the powdered form. In fact, brown and white powder heroin are simply black tar that gets processed further.
Because black tar heroin is less processed than other forms, it is cheaper. The drug is produced mainly in Mexico. It is, therefore, more widely available in the western U.S., and is very common in larger western cities, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.
What Does Black Tar Heroin Look Like?
If you are wondering ‘what does black tar heroin look like?’, you do not need to look much further than the drug’s name. Due to its crude processing methods, black tar heroin is not very pure. This leads to its sticky, dark appearance. The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes it as either ‘sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal’.
Black Tar Heroin Effects on the Body
Black tar heroin is usually injected directly into the bloodstream by users. The sticky substance must first be melted down into a liquid by heating it.
The effects of black tar heroin can be broken down into short-term and long-term:
Short-Term Effects of Black Tar Heroin
When heroin enters the bloodstream and makes its way to the brain, users often report feeling an immediate ‘rush’ of pleasure. The rush is commonly accompanied by:
- Dry mouth
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Heavy feeling in arms and legs
- Severe itching
In the hours following these first effects, the following effects may be felt:
- Clouded mind
- Heart rate slows
- Breathing slows
Heroin produces its mental effects by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, just like other opioid drugs. Because it works similarly to other opioids, addicts may swap it out for prescription painkillers.
Long-Term Effects of Black Tar Heroin
Over time, heroin abuse takes a huge toll on the body. The following physical and mental effects are commonly seen in long-term black tar heroin abusers:
- Lung problems
- Mental disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.)
- Sexual dysfunction (men)
- Irregular menstrual cycles (women)
In addition to these devastating side effects, users of black tar heroin who regularly inject the drug will risk these problems:
- Scarred and/or collapsed veins
- Infections in blood vessels and in the heart
- Clogging of blood vessels
As you can see, black tar heroin use results in major effects on the body and mind. Plus, physical dependence on the drug can lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms as well as a higher risk for overdose.
Black Tar Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
When a user becomes dependent on black tar heroin, they will go through withdrawal symptoms if they stop using the drug or if they reduce their normal dose by a lot. Withdrawal is very uncomfortable and often acts as a barrier between an addict and their sobriety.
Many heroin addicts relapse because of withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal from black tar heroin may include:
- Cold flashes
- Leg movements
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pain
Withdrawal symptoms usually peak 24-48 hours after the user’s last dose of heroin. Within a week, most users finish withdrawal, but symptoms can keep showing up for months.
You should never try to detox from heroin at home. Doing so can result in relapse and many other complications. The best place to detox from heroin is at an inpatient detox center, where you will be taken care of and watched over full-time by medical staff.
Black Tar Heroin Overdose Symptoms
Because of the nature of heroin’s effects, it can be very difficult to tell if someone is just very ‘high’, or if they are overdosing.
If you see any of the following effects in someone who has taken black tar heroin, they could be having an overdose:
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to speak
- Slow, shallow, or stopped breathing
- Bluish purple skin (for lighter skin tones), or gray (for darker skin tones)
- Choking or gurgling sounds
- Pale, clammy skin
- Limp body
- Pulse that is slow, erratic, or stopped
- Lips/ fingernails turn blue or black
Heroin overdose can be fatal. The longer someone abuses heroin, the higher their risk of overdose.
The Danger of Fentanyl
There is a new killer in town: fentanyl. This powerful synthetic drug is killing tens of thousands of people across the nation each year. It is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
Heroin users may think they are ‘safe’ from the dangers of fentanyl overdose, but they are wrong. Drugs on the street, including heroin and cocaine, are being laced with fentanyl, leading to thousands of overdoses.
Get Treatment for Black Tar Heroin Addiction
The only way to avoid an overdose is to get the help you need and overcome your addiction. Call your local treatment center today to get started on the path to recovery.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3088121/ users commonly have mental and physical problems and have been traumatized as kids
- https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-heroin black tar sticky or hard mostly produced in Mexico, mostly available west of Mississippi
- https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-in-heroin-22048#black-tar-heroin how its made…opium is less refined than white powder…cheaper and easier to make