What is Black Tar Heroin

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Heroin is an addictive substance, included in the drug class known as opioids.Heroin is processed from morphine, a commonly used pain medication. (1) Heroin can be ingested by inhaling it through the nose, smoking it, or injecting it into the veins intravenously. (2) Black tar heroin is a specific type of heroin that is mainly produced in Mexico. (3) It is often sold east of the Mississippi river. (4) It can range from being sticky in texture or hard like a rock. The name black tar originates from the dark color that is produced following the various processing methods. (5) Like regular or purer forms of heroin, black tar heroin can be dangerous. Engaging in black tar heroin use can lead to serious health effects and increase your chances of developing an addiction.

If you suspect that you or a loved one are experiencing black tar heroin addiction, opioid use disorder, or an addiction to any other substance, treatment in a facility may be beneficial. Here at Guardian Recovery, we offer opioid specific detoxification services to help initiate sobriety. Stopping substance use can be difficult, but you are not alone. Our clinically trained staff will provide you with professional care, ranging from psychoeducation, to aftercare planning. We work with you to help cultivate the best plan to meet your treatment needs. Contact us today to start your road to recovery and wellness journey

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Common Street Names & Nicknames for Black Tar Heroin

Though this substance is known by the name black tar heroin, it is not uncommon for it to be referred to by other street names or nicknames. Specific street names are determined based on specific location and area of the region.

Common street names and nicknames for black tar heroin include: (6)

  • Black dragon
  • Mexican black tar
  • Pigment
  • Muck
  • Slab
  • Black smack
  • Black thunder

Common Street Names & Nicknames for Black Tar Heroin

Though this substance is known by the name black tar heroin, it is not uncommon for it to be referred to by other street names or nicknames. Specific street names are determined based on specific location and area of the region.

Common street names and nicknames for black tar heroin include: (6)

  • Black dragon
  • Mexican black tar
  • Pigment
  • Muck
  • Slab
  • Black smack
  • Black thunder

How is Black Tar Heroin Produced?

Black tar heroin is produced in the country of Mexico. The specific states where black tar heroin is produced include Sonora, Durango, and Sinaola. (7) The production process of black tar heroin is not only quicker than regular heroin, but it is also cheaper in price. One may wonder, what is black tar heroin made of? Pure morphine is combined with different acids and agents in order to produce black tar heroin. The process of making black tar heroin leads to less purity and more dangerous risks. Black tar heroin can be sold for approximately $75,000 per pound in the United States. (8)

Paraphernalia

Since black tar heroin is stickier than pure heroin, different paraphernalia is utilized in order to ingest it like other forms of heroin. Black tar heroin is often smoked, though it can be injected into the veins. Those who inject black tar heroin intravenously, use a spoon in order to heat the substance after diluting it with water. Lighters and needles may also be paraphernalia used when one engages in black tar heroin use. Understanding the different paraphernalia used can help identify if someone you know is engaging in substance use.

How is Black Tar Heroin Different Than Powder Form?

The main difference between black tar heroin and other forms of heroin is the production process. This process leads to the visual differences that individuals are able to spot out.

Visual Differences

Black tar heroin is darker in color than regular heroin, which is often white or brownish. (9) Black tar heroin is also clumpier in appearance. Other forms of heroin can be distinguished from black tar heroin since they resemble more of a powder.

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Side Effects of Smoking & Injecting Black Tar Heroin

Due to black tar heroin’s color, some individuals assume that it is not as strong or potent as pure white heroin. This is a huge misconception and often leads to individuals experiencing an overdose.

Short-Term Side Effects

Short-term side effects associated with black tar heroin use include: (10)

  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Severe itchiness

Once the initial rush of black tar heroin use begins to fade, drowsiness occurs, which can last for hours. Mental alertness becomes clouded and heart function decreases. This can lead to such slow breathing rates, coma, brain damage, or death can occur.

Long-Term Health Risks

Not only are their negative short-term consequences due to black tar heroin use, long-term health risks can occur as well. One of the most alarming health effects associated with black tar heroin use is the physical change that occurs within the brain. This change contributes to imbalances of hormones and neurons.

Additional long-term health risks associated with black tar heroin use include: (11)

  • White matter decay in the brain.
  • Impairment in decision making skills.
  • Difficulties regulating behavior.
  • Difficulties responding to stressful stimuli.
  • Psychological and physical dependence.
  • Botulism.

Botulism

Botulism is a serious and rare condition that occurs when toxins attack the central nervous system. (12) This part of the body involves the nerves, brain, and spinal cord. Botulism caused by black tar heroin use is specifically known as wound botulism. This is due to it being caused by a bacteria known as Clostridium botulinum entering the wound of black tar heroin injection sites. (13)

Symptoms of botulism include: (14)

  • Muscle weakness in the eyes, throat, mouth, neck, arms, torso and legs.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Drooping eyelids.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Paralysis.

Wound botulism can be treated with an antitoxin medication. (15) The medication helps stop any further harm caused by botulism, however, damage that has already been done cannot be reversed. Botulism can be fatal. Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing botulism.

Signs & Withdrawal Symptoms of Addiction

Signs of black tar heroin addiction are similar to that of pure heroin and other opioid addictions. Chronic or excessive black tar heroin use can lead to both physical and psychological dependence.

Signs of black tar heroin addiction include: (16)

  • Isolating oneself.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene.
  • Mood swings.
  • Neglecting relational and occupational responsibilities.
  • Depression.
  • Tiredness.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Engaging in risky behavior.

Once tolerance is built, or there is a need to increase the amount of black tar heroin used in order to reach the desired high, withdrawal is likely to occur. Withdrawal occurs when an individual does not ingest the same amount of a substance that they normally would. WIthdrawal can also occur if substance use is stopped suddenly or reduced. Withdrawal symptoms can begin within 6 hours of last use, and can last for several months.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with black tar heroin addiction include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Sore muscle
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold sweats
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Seizures

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Attending a substance use facility is one of the most successful ways to reach sobriety from black tar heroin use or other substances. Guardian Recovery can provide you therapeutic interventions and evidence-based treatment to aid you in your substance use recovery. A free, no obligation insurance benefit check can be provided upon your request. Recovery is possible here at Guardian Recovery. Contact us today to get started.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-heroin
  2. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/heroin#:~:text=What%20is%20it%3F,as%20sugar%20or%20powdered%20milk.
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-heroin
  4. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-heroin
  5. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-heroin
  6. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/heroin#:~:text=What%20is%20it%3F,as%20sugar%20or%20powdered%20milk.
  7. https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/chasing-black-dragon
  8. https://www.ojp.gov/ncjrs/virtual-library/abstracts/chasing-black-dragon
  9. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/heroin#:~:text=What%20is%20it%3F,as%20sugar%20or%20powdered%20milk.
  10. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-heroin-use
  11. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-long-term-effects-heroin-use
  12. https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/index.html
  13. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm675152a3.htm
  14. https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/index.html
  15. https://www.cdc.gov/botulism/wound-botulism.html#:~:text=Wound%20botulism%20is%20a%20rare,muscle%20weakness%20and%20even%20death.
  16. https://www.asahq.org/madeforthismoment/pain-management/opioid-treatment/opioid-abuse/

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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