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What Is Brown Heroin?

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From 1999 to 2020, heroin overdose deaths increased from 1,960 to over 13,000. This number, which peaked in 2016 with over 15,000 deaths, is a major cause for concern among members of nearly every demographic.. As the opioid epidemic grows, so do the chances of accidental overdose. When an individual feels ready to quit and recover from addiction, there is help available to them.. It is that moment of lucid survival that can make all the difference between being an inspirational story or another statistic.

Guardian Recovery is available to help. Making the choice to commit to recovery can be a difficult first step, and it is generally one a person must make on their own. The steps to follow are ones that are made significantly easier with a strong support system there to help. Guardian Recovery can act as that support system. With trained professionals, looking to the root cause of a person’s addiction, and FDA medications to help soothe the withdrawal symptoms to follow, Guardian can lead you or a loved one toward a life of recovery. Contact us today to learn more.

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What Does Brown Heroin Look Like?

The easy answer to this question is brown. Brown heroin is brown. However, it can vary in shades from light tan to darker incarnations of brown. Much like white powder or black tar heroin, the color is typically influenced by the things it is cut with. Overall heroin can be cut with a variety of dangerous and fatal additives like:

  • Starch.
  • Baking Soda.
  • Baby/Talcum Powder.
  • Powdered Milk.
  • Rat Poison.
  • Detergent.
  • Sugar.
  • Flour.
  • Caffeine.
  • Crushed Up Pills/Painkillers.

These substances are what heighten the already hazardous nature of heroin use. As a “street drug,” the makeup of heroin is not regulated and can include many potentially lethal additives. In essence, the user is ingesting nearly anything that those who are selling it may have added.

What Does Brown Heroin Smell Like?

Brown heroin is more similar to black tar heroin than to the white powdered version. Because of this, the smell is similar to that type. A strong vinegar smell is often the differentiating factor, though the odor can vary based on the strength of the drug and what it is cut with.

The reason behind heroin’s vinegar-like smell is the chemical processes used in its creation. The final steps of the synthesis process are what makes it smell that way, not actually vinegar. This is why the odor is associated with the drug but not always present.  In some cases, more pure heroin is washed at the end of the process in order to remove the pungent smell.

Black tar heroin and brown heroin aren’t seen as particularly potent or desireable versions of the drug, which is why the vinegar smell can be so strong within these variations. This is not, however, an indication that it is safer or even different than any other form of the drug.

What Are Brown Heroin’s Slang Terms?

Heroin is known by many names. While non-heroin users might be familiar with some of the slang used for heroin, the terms used for this particular variation are specific. These include:

  • Mexican Brown.
  • Mr. Brownstone.
  • Brown.
  • Brown Crystal.
  • Brown Sugar.

As it is still considered heroin, traditional slang also applies to brown heroin. These terms can be:

  • Smack.
  • H.
  • Junk.
  • Horse.
  • Dope.
  • Snow.
  • Skag.

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Is Brown Heroin Less Addictive Than Other Heroin?

There is a myth that brown heroin is not as addictive as other forms of the drug. In reality, this variation of the drug is just as dangerous and addictive as any other form of opioid narcotic.

This misconception goes along the same route as the belief that a person’s chosen form of ingestion can lessen the addictive nature of heroin. Snorting, smoking, and ingesting any form of heroin are all incredibly addictive due to the way the person’s brain processes the reaction they get from it.

Linked to pleasure receptors in the brain, heroin immediately latches onto a person by creating an artificial state of euphoria. It causes receptors to block pain and release chemicals to create this false sense of comfort. The high pushes a user to chase the feeling as the effects of heroin lessen with each consumption. It is what puts a person on an endless cycle of self-destruction while they chase a feeling that will never return.

This physical dependence leads to many issues when a person tries to quit on their own or “cold turkey”. It is what causes relapses, heightened addiction, and ultimately death.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Brown Heroin?

The symptoms of withdrawal from brown heroin are identical to the symptoms of withdrawal from heroin itself. These feelings of physical and mental sickness include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Nervousness and agitation.
  • Cravings.
  • Muscle pains and spasms.
  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Anxiety and jitters.
  • Runny nose.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Depression.

This is why recovery from heroin, regardless of the color, is never recommended as a solo venture. A proper support system of professionals, aided by FDA-approved medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, can help an individual get past the most physically and psychologically uncomfortable periods of withdrawal. The feeling of being “ dope sick” is the brain’s way of encouraging further usage and tricking a person to return to the drug, even after they have made the decision to quit.

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Any form of heroin is addictive and requires professional assistance to quit without physical or mental stress on the individual. Guardian Recovery has professionals trained and prepared to make that transition from survival to  recovery possible. Our individualized programs and in-depth approach to addressing  the underlying causes of addiction can make the difference in both short-term and long-term success. For more information on how Guardian Recovery can help you or a loved one find success in recovery, contact us today.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


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:

Cayla Clark

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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