Black Tar Heroin: Effects, Health Risks, Overdose, Addiction & Treatment
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is a drug that reaches the brain very fast once it’s consumed, for this reason, it is very easy for a person to develop heroin addiction even from one or a few uses. Before we get to the main topic, let’s learn about what heroin is. According to the scientific piece ‘Heroin’, published by The National Library of Medicine, “Heroin is a white or brown powder or a black, sticky goo.
It’s an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance in the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. It can be mixed with water and injected with a needle. Heroin can also be smoked or snorted up the nose. All of these ways of taking heroin send it to the brain very quickly. This makes it very addictive.
Regular use of heroin can lead to tolerance. This means users need more and more drugs to have the same effect. At higher doses over time, the body becomes dependent on heroin. If dependent users stop heroin, they have withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and cold flashes with goosebumps”.
What Is Black Tar Heroin?
Black tar heroin is a specific variety of heroin. It is much different in appearance than the common powder form of the drug, which is usually either white or brown. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), black tar heroin comes in the form of a dark, sticky substance. Distinguishing between the powder and black tar forms of heroin is easy, even for the untrained eye, since black tar gets its name from its resemblance to roofing tar.
All forms of heroin are derived from morphine, a powerful opioid painkiller. Black tar heroin is primarily produced in Mexico, according to the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Some South American and Asian countries have also been known to export the drug. Due to the large Mexican supply, black tar heroin is prevalent in the western portion of the United States, and cities like Los Angeles see a lot of black tar heroin use.
Effects of Black Tar Heroin
All Heroin carries the same effects. It is commonly believed that Black Tar Heroin is less pure than other forms of the drug, but that is largely a misconception. While there is a widespread belief that white Heroin is purer, it is very often cut with other powders to keep the cost down.
Black Tar Heroin is typically around 30% pure due to the faster, cruder process that the Heroin goes through; the purity can vary tremendously, however. While the process used to create Black Tar Heroin makes it cheaper to produce and to buy, it also often makes the Heroin less pure and more dangerous. The general effects of Heroin, no matter the color, are the same. They include:
- Reduced anxiety
- Relieved tension
Anyone who uses Black Tar Heroin will feel these effects from the first time they use it. Unfortunately, these are also the desired effects that make the drug so addictive. While both long and short-term Black Tar Heroin users are equally likely to experience an overdose, the longer someone uses Heroin the more likely they are to develop other disorders and diseases. Long-term effects of heroin use include:
- Collapsed veins (from intravenous use)
- Damaged tissue (where drug is ingested)
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
- Abscesses (swollen tissue filled with pus)
- Stomach cramps
- Liver and kidney disease
- Lung disease
- Mental disorders
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Irregular menstrual cycles in women
Black Tar Heroin: Health Risks
The use of any kind of heroin, including black tar heroin, is extremely hazardous to one’s health. Injecting the drug intravenously can lead to venous sclerosis, a condition that results in the narrowing and hardening of veins. This can make it very difficult for a user to inject the drug into that same vein in the future.
Eventually, veins can collapse altogether, leading users to inject the drug elsewhere on the body, even into muscle. Bacterial infection is another serious health risk associated with the use of black tar heroin. Infections, such as necrotizing fasciitis, can be life-threatening in a very short amount of time due to how quickly they can spread.
Wound botulism, another disease caused by bacteria, can also arise from black tar heroin use; most patients treated for this condition are heroin users. If untreated, wound botulism can lead to paralysis and even death. There is no cure, but symptoms can be managed if prompt care is sought.
How Is Black Tar Heroin Used?
Primary methods of use for black tar heroin include smoking or injecting the drug. In some instances, heroin is snorted, but it’s not as common as other methods of ingestion. Since the drug can be dissolved in the water quite easily, injection drug use is common. Paraphernalia commonly associated with injecting heroin include:
- A spoon
- Aluminum foil
- Cotton balls
- A belt to tie off the arm, making veins more prominent
Users who smoke heroin often use a lighter to burn the substance after placing it on a small piece of aluminum foil. They will usually inhale the substance through some kind of small funneling object.
Signs Of Overdose From Black Tar Heroin
Signs of black tar Heroin overdose include, but aren’t limited to:
- Shallow or no breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Weak pulse
- Dry mouth
- Tongue discoloration
- Very small pupils
- Bluish lips and nails
- Stomach or intestinal spasms
- Passing out
- Uncontrollable muscle movements
- Extreme drowsiness
If someone begins exhibiting these symptoms, timely use of Naloxone can reverse these symptoms and stop an overdose before it turns fatal.
Black Tar Heroin Addiction
Many who become addicted to Heroin do not start Heroin because that is what they want. Statistically, the average user will turn to Heroin after they’ve already developed an Opioid addiction. This is generally from a prescription Opioid that they were receiving legally for legitimate pain they had. However, they may not realize that they developed an addiction until their prescription ran out. After that point, they must find a new way to feed the biological craving they are feeling. Symptoms of Heroin addiction include:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Sudden weight loss
- Secretive behavior
- Changes in appearance
- Lack of motivation
- Extreme drowsiness or nodding off
- Financial problems/borrowing money
- Slurred speech
- Shortness of breath
- Collapsed veins
- Severe itchiness
Studies report that 80% of the people addicted to Heroin once started by using a prescription Opioid. After they’ve grown addicted, and their prescription has run out, many turns to purchase the drug illicitly. It is only after desperation sets in that they will turn to Heroin, a cheaper and more potent alternative. Black Tar Heroin is generally relatively cheap and easy to locate in the Central and Western United States.
The Importance of Professional Treatment for Black Tar Heroin Addiction
Black tar heroin is easily distinguishable in appearance due to its dark color and sticky consistency. As black tar heroin is a significant drug of abuse that leads to severe addictions, comprehensive addiction treatment is needed for those who abuse the drug. Anyone struggling with abuse should seek professional help, as both the short-term and long-term ramifications of heroin use can be dire.
Reclaim Your Life From Black Tar Heroin Addiction
Black Tar Heroin Addiction is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 The United States Department of Justice. (2001). California Central District Threat Assessment.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Necrotizing Fasciitis: All You Need to Know.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Injection Drug Use and Wound Botulism.
 Heroin – National Library of Medicine (Medlineplus.gov)
 Heroin DrugFacts – The National Institute on Drug Abuse (drugabuse.gov)
 Heroin Addiction, Sándor Hosztafi, National Library of Medicine (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)