Black Tar Heroin

black tar heroin

Your Questions Answered: What Is Black Tar Heroin?

Chances are you’ve heard of heroin. It’s an opioid that has made headlines across the United States over the past two decades.

This highly addictive drug continues to affect the lives of many Americans as the country continues fighting the opioid crisis.

In New Mexico, there were hundreds of deaths involving heroin and other opioids in 2020, proving it’s still a problem that needs to be solved in The Land of Enchantment.

The problem of black tar heroin in New Mexico has been an issue for decades.

According to the United States 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.”

On the streets, heroin is known as :

  • Black tar
  • Smack
  • H
  • Horse
  • Junk
  • Skag

What makes heroin so dangerous is that over time, you become more tolerant to the effects of the drug. This leads to needing more and more of it, which could lead to health problems, including overdose and/or addiction.

For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to take a look at black tar heroin, the dangers of the drug, and how you can address addiction.

A Look at Black Tar Heroin

While there are a few different forms of heroin, black tar heroin is arguably the most well known.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Black tar heroin is sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal and is predominantly produced in Mexico and sold in U.S. areas west of the Mississippi River. The dark color associated with black tar heroin results from crude processing methods that leave behind impurities. Impure heroin is usually dissolved, diluted, and injected into veins, muscles, or under the skin.”

Black tar heroin is known for its euphoric (pleasurable) effects. This occurs because the drug enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors, most notably those that affect pleasure and pain, sleeping, breathing, and heart rate.

That said, the short-term effects of black tar heroin can include:

  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Heavy feeling in the legs and arms
  • Back and forth state of being conscious (awake) and unconscious
  • Clouded thinking
  • Overdose

Long-term effects of black tar heroin can include:

  • Collapsed veins if injected
  • Damaged nose tissue if snorted
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Heart-related infections
  • Lung problems
  • Pneumonia
  • Mental health disorders

The NIH explains, “Heroin often contains additives that can clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage. Also, sharing drug injection equipment and having impaired judgment from drug use can increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.”

The Dangers of Black Tar Heroin Overdose

A black tar heroin overdose is a medical emergency. If someone has overdosed on heroin, call 911 immediately.

Overdoses occur when someone takes more black tar heroin than their body can handle. In some cases, overdoses can be fatal.

The NIH says, “When people overdose on heroin, their breathing often slows or stops. This can decrease the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia can have short and long-term mental effects and effects on the nervous system, including coma and permanent brain damage.”

Symptoms of black tar heroin overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Discolored tongue
  • Small pupils (black centers of the eyes)
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blue-colored nails or lips
  • Constipation
  • Stomach spasms
  • Sleepiness
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements
  • Coma
  • Confusion

To treat an overdose, emergency workers may use Naloxone, which “is a medicine that can treat an opioid overdose when given right away,” according to the NIH. “It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. Sometimes more than one dose may be needed to help a person start breathing again, which is why it’s important to get the person to an emergency department or a doctor to receive additional support if needed.”

Signs of Addiction

According to the NIH, “Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can lead to brain changes that challenge an addicted person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense urges to take drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a ‘relapsing’ disease — people in recovery from drug use disorders are at increased risk for returning to drug use even after years of not taking the drug.”

Addiction can present itself in a variety of ways. If you believe you or a loved one is addicted to black tar heroin, there are a few signs to look out for.

Signs of addiction can include:

  • Wanting to stop using a drug but being unable to
  • Taking drugs despite the negative effects on your health
  • Constant cravings for a drug
  • Financial problems from buying drugs
  • Problems with family or friends
  • Poor grooming
  • Missing work or school
  • A change in peer group
  • A change in sleeping patterns
  • A change in eating habits
  • Trouble with the law
  • Poor work or school performance
  • Overdose
  • Withdrawal

It’s important to note that anyone can develop an addiction. However, it can be conquered.

Leave Your Addiction Behind

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” — Michael Jordan

If heroin has taken control of your life, you can break free from its grasp. There is no shame in asking for help or seeking professional treatment. At some point, we all need someone by our side to push us forward toward success.

You are more than your addiction. You deserve to live a life of happiness and fulfillment. Even if you’ve tried to get sober before and failed, that is no reason to give up. The next attempt could be the one that changes your life for the better.

The first step is usually the most difficult one. Start your journey today. It’s worth it.

Shadow Mountain Can Help You Take Your Life Back

At Shadow Mountain Recovery, we understand your situation is unique, which is why we create personalized treatment for heroin addiction.

Our program will address the symptoms of your addiction and daily-life contributors that may affect it. We use evidence-based treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy to help change thoughts and behaviors that lead to unwanted or unhealthy habits.

We also offer recreational activities as a healthy alternative to heroin. To learn more, call (800) 203-8249.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of a heroin overdose?

A heroin overdose is considered a medical emergency. If you believe someone has overdosed on heroin, call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of black tar heroin overdose can include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Discolored tongue
  • Small pupils (black centers of the eyes)
  • Weak pulse
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blue-colored nails or lips
  • Constipation
  • Stomach spasms
  • Sleepiness
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements
  • Coma
  • Confusion

What is addiction?

Addiction is typically defined as drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. Addiction may cause constant cravings for a drug, such as heroin; the inability to leave a drug behind despite wanting to; and problems in your personal or professional life.