Heroin Identification

The majority of heroin overdose deaths in New Mexico result from opioids like heroin. For individuals using illicit substances, it can be challenging to know what’s in the substances they’re taking. Even dealers who have experience can’t tell when heroin has been mixed with something else because it’s undetectable to human senses.

If you suspected a loved one of struggling with substance use, would you know what to look for? Having a basic understanding of what to look for can give you the information you need to recognize substance use and help your loved one find recovery.

How to Identify Heroin From Other Types of Opioids

Heroin comes from morphine, a substance found in the resin of the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. Heroin is an opioid. This means heroin bonds with a person’s opioid receptors and causes euphoric effects and pain management. Examples of other opioids include fentanyl, oxycodone, codeine, and hydrocodone. Some opioids are prescribed by doctors and used for chronic pain management. However, because of their potential for misuse, opioids should be used only as directed by a doctor.

When attempting to identify an opioid, it is not always obvious which substance you are dealing with. In recent years, mixing fentanyl with other substances without a buyer’s knowledge has become common. This happens because fentanyl is inexpensive to manufacture and highly potent. When a person purchases heroin or another substance, they may get a mixture including fentanyl.

Fentanyl is more potent than other opioids. Using heroin mixed with fentanyl is dangerous because a person may take their usual dose only to find that it is a much more potent substance than they are used to. This can lead to overdose. There is no way to distinguish if fentanyl is mixed with heroin. with a person’s senses.

You can check heroin for the presence of fentanyl by using fentanyl test strips. Fentanyl test strips were recently legalized in New Mexico. These strips use a chemical reaction to inform a person of the presence of fentanyl.

To test a substance for the presence of fentanyl, you first dissolve a small amount of the substance in water. Next, you dip the test strip into the water for 15 seconds. For the final step, place the strip on a flat surface. Results from the test should appear in around  5 minutes. Using this method to test heroin saves lives, allowing people to pursue recovery from heroin use.

Different Colors of Heroin

White heroin is the purest form of heroin and, therefore, the safest. However, white heroin is often mixed with other substances. Often, everyday items like sugar or baking soda are cut with heroin, but other substances such as fentanyl or cocaine are sometimes added. This practice is dangerous because a person may experience unexpected heroin side effects from the mixture. White heroin is commonly injected or inhaled. Pure white heroin is the most expensive heroin to produce because of the specialized equipment required.

Brown heroin does not require any special equipment or skill to produce, but this variant is less potent than white heroin. Because brown heroin is difficult to dissolve in water and has a low burning temperature, the typical way to use brown heroin is by smoking it.

The least refined type of heroin is called black tar heroin. Black tar heroin can be orange, dark brown, or black. Black tar heroin is sticky and hard like a rock. Of the three varieties of heroin, black tar is the easiest to produce.

Heroin Packaging

Discretion is the primary motivator when it comes to packaging heroin. This is to make the presence of heroin less evident to law enforcement who may be searching for illicit substances. Heroin may be placed in folded-up squares of aluminum and then placed in a small plastic zip-lock bag. Others who transport heroin are more creative in their approach. Unfortunately, some of these innovative approaches to heroin transport can become dangerous. For example, some individuals empty gelatin capsules and replace the contents of the capsules with heroin powder. Others insert heroin into a body cavity in order to transport heroin undetected.


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Street Names of Heroin

Heroin goes by a wide variety of street names. A few examples are:

  • H
  • Tar
  • Dope
  • Smack
  • Chiba
  • China White
  • Mud
  • Chiva
  • White boy
  • Junk
  • Mexican brown
  • White
  • White nurse
  • Paper Boy
  • He
  • White horse
  • Give Wings
  • Brown Sugar
  • White lady
  • Boy
  • Black Pearl
  • Snow
  • White stuff
  • White girl
  • Brown crystal
  • Dip and Dab
  • Skunk
  • Black tar
  • Mexican mud
  • Snowball

Why Heroin Identification Matters

If you aren’t sure what to look for when it comes to heroin use, you should consider yourself lucky. It probably means you have not had to address a heroin use issue in your life. However, substance use disorder is a significant problem for many people. Everyone who is using heroin should know what to look out for when taking this substance. Unfortunately, if you don’t know your friend or loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, you cannot offer help.

In addition to this, understanding how to distinguish different types of substances helps keep a person safe from unexpected substance use effects. Of course, illicit substance use is not ideal, but a person should be informed about what they are putting into their body rather than being tricked into ingesting something more dangerous than expected.

Get Treatment for Heroin Dependency

Shadow Mountain Recovery Centers provide heroin addiction treatment for heroin use disorder and other substance use disorders. Utilizing evidence-based practices, our staff can work with you to create a treatment plan to help you reach your recovery goals. If you are ready to achieve recovery from heroin use, call Shadow Mountain today at 505-657-2117.

FAQs About The Identification of Heroin

Some substances are easy to identify by sight. For example, it is relatively easy to tell the difference between white heroin, brown heroin, and black tar heroin. Also, a person can identify substances based on associated paraphernalia. For example, individuals who use meth might carry a spoon and a lighter. However, there are some substances that can not easily be identified. Fentanyl is an example of a substance that is often made to look like other substances and is odorless and tasteless. In many cases, a person can not identify a substance with 100% certainty without laboratory testing.

Heroin is more challenging to detect than other substances in a drug test, but it is still possible. Typically heroin only shows up in blood and saliva tests for 5-6 hours after heroin use. Urine tests are generally effective for two days after heroin use. A hair follicle test can detect the presence of heroin up to three months after heroin use.

Heroin is a schedule I controlled substance, meaning it is not legal to use. A person who uses heroin has a high chance of developing dependence, and it has no approved medical uses. Heroin was originally used as a cough medicine, but medical professionals quickly determined that heroin should not be used for medical purposes.

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