Substance Use

What is Black Tar Heroin?

man preparing black tar heroin hit with spoon and lighter

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Black Tar Heroin: Dangers, Side Effects, and How to Seek Help

Heroin is a dangerous and deadly drug, with figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealing that the number of people who died from a heroin overdose was nearly seven times higher in 2020 than in 1999. Black tar heroin is an even cruder form of heroin that has the potential further to jeopardize the well-being and lives of heroin users.

This post will explain what black tar heroin is, the symptoms of a black tar heroin overdose, and how you can get help for heroin addiction.

Are you or a loved one struggling with a substance use disorder? Zinnia Health is here to help with our broad range of comprehensive drug and alcohol addiction recovery services. Call us today at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.

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What Is Black Tar Heroin?

Black tar heroin, also called “Black Dragon” and “Mexican Black tar heroin” is a newer form of heroin that some federal officials believe will overtake crack cocaine in popularity.

Like all forms of heroin, black tar heroin is derived from the powerful opioid morphine.

This crude form of heroin is a sticky substance similar to tar or coal. It is a major export of Mexican drug cartels, and it is predominantly manufactured in Mexico.

Because of the large supply of the drug in Mexico, areas West of the Mississippi River, including Los Angeles, see the most black tar heroin use.

The reason that black tar heroin is so dangerous is that there’s a misconception surrounding its purity due to its black color.

This leads people to believe it’s not as pure — or strong — as white forms of heroin, and they take more of the drug to get the same high. This greatly increases the risk of overdose.

Unlike the white form of heroin, the crude form of black tar heroin means it cannot be injected unless it is diluted into a liquid. For this reason, many people choose to smoke it. It can also be mixed with water, heated up, and sprayed into the nose.

Side Effects of Black Tar Heroin

The side effects of black tar heroin are the same as regular heroin. The short-term effects of heroin include:

  • Intense euphoria
  • Contentment
  • Reduced anxiety and tension
  • Drowsiness
  • Heavy limbs
  • Flushed skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Nodding off

The long-term effects of heroin use are:

  • Insomnia
  • Tissue damage
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramps
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Bacterial infection of the blood vessels
  • Collapsed veins
  • Abscesses
  • Runny nose
  • Infection in the heart lining and valves
  • Mental health and behavioral health problems and disorders
  • Lung disease
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Irregular periods
  • Insomnia
  • Blood clots
  • Hepatitis B from sharing syringes

You can avoid these effects of heroin use before it’s too late when you reach out to Zinnia Health today. Read more about our substance abuse treatment process here.

Health Risks of Black Tar Heroin

It should come as no surprise that using any type of heroin can have serious health risks and implications.

Some of the most common medical conditions that arise from this kind of drug use include:

1. Brain Damage

Heroin can damage the brain in several ways. In the short term, heroin releases excessive amounts of dopamine in the brain. In the long term, this teaches the brain it needs heroin to function, leading to withdrawal symptoms when heroin is not in the person’s system.

The drug can also lead to frontal lobe damage. What’s more, when someone overdoses on heroin, their brain can lack oxygen which can have long-term effects on movement, memory, vision, and mood.

2. Venous Sclerosis

Venous sclerosis makes veins narrow and hard, making injection drug use extremely challenging. Eventually, the veins may collapse, causing users to find other places on their body to inject the drug into, including their toes or directly into muscle.

3. Wound Botulism

When a germ known as Clostridium botulinum enters a wound (commonly an injection wound) and creates a toxin, a condition called “wound botulism” can appear. The toxin then attacks the body’s nerves, making breathing difficult.

This can lead to muscle weakness, paralysis, and even death. Heroin users are at an increased risk for wound botulism because of the frequency with which they use needles to inject the drug into their skin.

Symptoms of wound botulism include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Double vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Slurred speech
  • A tongue that feels thick
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Symptoms of Black Tar Heroin Overdose

The symptoms of black tar heroin overdose include:

  • Weak pulse
  • Depressed breathing
  • Stopping breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Discord tongue
  • Small pupils
  • Stomach spasms
  • Uncontrollable muscle movements
  • Feeling extremely drowsy
  • Blue lips
  • Blue nails
  • Delirium

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it’s critically important that you get help ASAP.

  • Significant weight loss
  • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
  • Depression
  • Changes to sleep patterns and habits
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Strained relationships
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Wanting to stop using or cut back but being unable to do so

Use our treatment locator to find a treatment center near you.

Black Tar Heroin Addiction Treatment

There are several treatment options available for black tar heroin addiction. The road to recovery starts with a medical detox to rid your body of the drug and start your journey to sobriety.

In detox, you are under the supervision of a team of healthcare providers who will monitor you to ensure your safety and use medications to ensure you are as comfortable as possible during the detox process so that you are not pushed back into the arms of heroin.

Some of the medications used for black tar heroin detox include:

    Naltrexone: Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids
  • Methadone: Methadone also works to block the effects of opioids by lessening the euphoria of opioids while helping prevent symptoms of heroin withdrawal
  • Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine partially blocks the effects of opioids, producing similar effects to heroin in much smaller concentrations. This allows people who are addicted to heroin to wean themselves off of the effects, like euphoria, safely.
  • Zinnia Health Can Help With Heroin Addiction

    Break free from the chains of addiction with Zinnia Health. Our team of compassionate and caring treatment providers is among the top in the nation.

    Contact us today to learn more about recovery with Zinnia Health.

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