Heroin is an opioid, and it is among the most addictive. In 2012, 669,000 people admitted to using heroin in the previous year, and that only accounts for the number of people willing to say so. An increasing number of people have been taking heroin in the U.S. since 2007, something that is largely afflicting those aged 18 to 25. In 2012, a total of 156,000 people reported using heroin for the first time; in 2006, only 90,000 reported trying it for the first time, but the numbers have been steadily climbing.
Before heroin can be made, you must first obtain morphine that comes from seed pods of plants that grow in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Burma, Laos, Thailand, South America, and Mexico. Most of the black tar heroin that ends up in the United States comes from Mexico. It is known as brown heroin, and it is consistently of lesser quality.
The best type of heroin was being created in Afghanistan, and dealers began to import it into the United States. The better quality of the Afghan heroin led people to choose it over the impure heroin that comes from Mexico. In response, drug dealers created black tar heroin in order to compete with the Afghan heroin.
Black tar heroin is known as such because it is the same color and consistency as black tar. While other varieties of heroin come in white or brown powder, black tar heroin is solid. Brown heroin is highly impure, while black tar heroin is only 25% to 30% pure. Most of the time, black tar heroin is not as pure as white heroin, but the fact that black tar heroin is of such poor quality means that people can buy it for very low prices.
What Does Black Tar Heroin Look Like?
Black tar heroin is easy to describe because the name very aptly describes it. Some forms of black tar heroin appear to look exactly like black tar. Other forms appear to look like coal.
Black tar heroin looks the way that it does because of the manufacturing process used to create it, a method that allows the impurities to remain in the product. In addition, dealers add quinine, powdered milk, starch, and sugar to the heroin, which causes it to be even less pure. Sometimes, black tar heroin appears to be dark brown or dark orange.
What Does Black Tar Heroin Smell Like?
People recognize black tar heroin for its vinegar-like smell, and it is very strong. The chemical processes are what cause this smell. If the black tar heroin is of higher quality, the smell is not as strong. This is because manufacturers wash good quality heroin right after they create it. Even so, because black tar heroin usually has many impurities, it will have a smell most of the time.
The smell will be different with each batch of black tar heroin that a manufacturer makes because each batch has different ingredients added to the mixture. At any rate, you can be assured that black tar heroin will have a smell because it is very likely to contain impurities.
How Do People Use Black Tar Heroin?
Black tar heroin can be dissolved in water, so people often do this so that they can fill a syringe and inject it into a vein. You can also smoke black tar heroin by lighting it and inhaling the smoke.
What Are the Effects of Black Tar Heroin?
Black tar heroin produces very strong effects, and people can obtain these effects for an extremely low price, making this drug very alluring. It is cheaper than white heroin because it is not as pure, but it is still a dangerous drug.
Black tar heroin enters the brain quickly, and this makes it a highly addictive substance. Users state that they experience a surge of euphoria but that they begin to feel very sleepy afterward. They will feel very relaxed and may drift in and out of sleep.
Bodily Side Effects of Black Tar Heroin
As people use black tar heroin regularly, they develop an addiction to the drug. Their bodies become tolerant to the dose that they are currently taking, so they need to increase the dosage; otherwise, they wouldn’t feel the euphoria with the same intensity because they are now tolerant to the drug. As they continue to increase their dosages, they are engrossed in an addiction that they cannot easily stop.
Black tar heroin affects the body by causing the following:
- Uncoordinated movements
- The inability to concentrate
- A feeling of being impaired
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Extreme itching
- Dry mouth
- Legs and arms that feel heavy
- Warm and flushed skin
- Pinpoint pupils
- Respiratory depression
Other Drugs Added to Black Tar Heroin
Manufacturers have been adding other substances to black tar heroin, and many of their customers do not necessarily know this. The synthetic opioid fentanyl, for example, is much stronger than morphine. As a matter of fact, it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Black tar heroin laced with fentanyl makes the substance even more potent than it already is, and it increases the user’s risk of overdosing.
Because users may not necessarily know that their heroin has been laced with fentanyl, they do not know that they will need naloxone in the event that they begin to suffer the consequences of an overdose. Naloxone is the remedy that will reverse the effects of an overdose very quickly. The person’s breathing may slow down to a dangerous pace, but naloxone will quickly restore the person’s breathing back to normal. It may even work after the person’s breathing has stopped entirely.
Carfentanil is a tranquilizer for very large animals, so the FDA has not approved its use for human beings. Even so, black tar heroin can be laced with carfentanil, and it is a substance that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. Just touching the substance or inhaling it is highly dangerous for humans, and if people ingest it unknowingly, they are susceptible to overdosing.
Naloxone can reverse the effects of overdose on carfentanil as well, but the user must know that carfentanil was in the black tar heroin that was ingested in the first place. This is not always the case.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Black Tar Heroin Use?
As people repeatedly take black tar heroin and develop a dependence, it can feel close to impossible for them to stop seeking the substance on their own. By the time they want to do this, the body is accustomed to having heroin in its system, and if it doesn’t get it, it reminds the user that it is time to provide it with more black tar heroin.
The body reminds the user to seek black tar heroin by putting out withdrawal symptoms, and it does not take long for withdrawal symptoms to appear. Just a couple of hours after the last dose was taken, a user may begin to feel restless. They may experience goosebumps, vomiting, and diarrhea. They may have pain in their bones and muscles, and they may be unable to sleep. Two or three days after the last dose of black tar heroin was taken, they will feel the worst of the withdrawal symptoms, but these will reside after about seven days.
It wouldn’t be unusual for someone to experience heroin withdrawal symptoms for several months. Fortunately, this type of withdrawal can be treated in a treatment center, and at Granite Recovery Centers, we have the capacity to place your loved one in a drug detox program when your loved one is ready.
Your loved one is dependent on black tar heroin, so it would not be enough to simply help someone survive the withdrawal symptoms. The detox program addresses the physical addiction, but your loved one still has a psychological addiction that will cause the person to seek drugs again.
The long-term effects include the following:
- Liver disease and kidney disease
- An infection of the linings of the heart and its valves
- Bacterial infections
- Collapsed or scarred veins
- The risk of tuberculosis and pneumonia
- Mental health disorders
- Clogged blood vessels
Men also have trouble performing in the bedroom, and women begin to experience irregular periods.
When people are injecting black tar heroin, they are increasing their risk of contracting several infections. In 2010, 17,000 people were newly infected with hepatitis C, and 53% of this number engaged in intravenous drug use. Also that year, 20% of intravenous drug users contracted hepatitis B, and this occurred when there was a vaccine that fights against this infection.
Heroin and Pregnancy
If your loved one is pregnant, she has a very important reason to stop using heroin. When a mother ingests black tar heroin, her baby receives the drug through the placenta. The developing fetus then becomes addicted to heroin along with the mother. After the baby is born, the physicians may diagnose a condition called “Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome” or NAS.
A baby born with NAS can experience vomiting, irritability, seizures, slow weight gain, tremors, diarrhea, fever, and uncontrollable crying. The baby will need to remain in the hospital for treatment with morphine. A fetus may be treated with methadone, but after it is born, it will still need treatment for NAS symptoms.
If your loved one is expecting a baby, it is definitely time for her to begin treatment at Granite Recovery Centers.
It can be difficult to convince a loved one that it is time to obtain help for black tar heroin addiction. At Granite Recovery Centers, we will make sure that your loved one safely goes through the detox process. We can also give your loved one a choice between an inpatient treatment program or an outpatient treatment program that will allow your loved one to remain at home.
Treatment options are for 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days, but we will help you and your loved one determine which program is the appropriate one. The medical community has determined that substance use disorders and mental health disorders often co-occur, so we can treat those diagnosed with a mental health condition and a substance use disorder at the same time. We can even offer your loved one placement in a sober living facility after the treatment process is over. After all, recovery is something that happens over the course of several years.
If your loved one wants to stop using black tar heroin, we want to help. Contact us at Granite Recovery Centers, and we will get the process of recovery started.