Home > The Complex Nature of Abused Substances and Getting Help for Addiction > Black Tar Heroin
Black tar heroin is a potent yet cheap form of heroin. Primarily produced in Mexico, this drug is found through America, Canada and parts of Europe. Black tar heroin is less refined than other heroin making it cheaper to produce and buy. Known as Cheeb, Muck, Mexican Mud, Brown or Black, this drug varies in color and texture as well as potency. The drug may be any color between brown and black and can be very firm and rock-like or goopy and sticky. This harmful substance ranges in purity between 29-80 percent. The drug can be injected, snorted or smoked, but the risks are high for all users.
People who abuse prescription opiate drugs or painkillers such as Oxycontin or Vicodin are often at a higher risk of beginning to take this substance. Black tar heroin is cheaper and easier to obtain than a prescription medication with price differences contributing to the uptake of the drug. Users may believe that by smoking the drug that they will have less chance of becoming addicted or at a lower risk of overdose, but the risks are the same for all users.
When a user inhales or injects black tar heroin, they will experience opiate-like effects which include relaxation, loss of anxiety, rush of euphoria that is followed by a sleepy dream like state. Black tar heroin is similar to heroin in that it evokes an anesthetic feeling and many users experience a significant loss of concentration, have trouble focusing, balance will be affected and the user may have limited responsiveness. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, itching, dry mouth and diarrhea are some of the other side effects of the drug.
As with other opiate drugs, black tar heroin has an incredibly high risk of addiction. Tolerance and dependence can also develop very quickly which can lead to an increase of use and potential overdose.
Black tar heroin has a higher risk of overdose or death due to the unknown purity associated with the drug. Additionally, as the drug is more frequently used by young and inexperienced users, complications arising as a result of this lack of experience are common. Black tar heroin may also be refined with harmful adulterant substances which can cause significant health problems for users.
Intravenous users are at a high risk of contacting infections or conditions due to the unrefined nature of the drug. Wound botulism is a serious and potentially life threatening condition that users of black tar heroin are at risk of contracting. Botulism occurs when the injection site becomes infected with the bacteria which grows and festers under the skin. Symptoms of this infection include blurred vision, vertigo, weakness, difficulty in swallowing or weakness. Damage to the veins is a particularly significant problem for black tar heroin users. Venous sclerosis causers users veins to narrow and harden making injection almost impossible. Injection sites and veins can also be badly damaged causing users to inject subcutaneously. When a user begins to inject in this way they are at risk of developing serious health problems such as cellulitis and necrotizing fascitits.
Black tar heroin is associated with excruciating and enduring withdrawals that occur after a period of dependence. Individuals will experience a range of symptoms when they begin the process of withdrawals which can include aches and tremors, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, severe headaches, fever, sweating, diarrhea, insomnia, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and changes to breathing. Users may also experience psychological changes when they go through withdrawals that include anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Black tar heroin is a relatively new drug to be available on the streets. Heroin was first discovered in the late 1800’s though a process of synthesizing opium to find a more powerful substance than morphine. Black tar heroin was found when scientists synthesized the newly discovered heroin. Initially used as an effective drug for treating respiratory disorders and pain relief, heroin soon became a popular recreational drug. Heroin was outlawed in the early 1930’s but addiction rates and recreational use did not change.
It was not until more recently that black tar heroin was rediscovered and Mexican drug cartels began to manufacture the drug. This may have been in response global rises in demand and prices for powered heroin. Drug traffickers and associated gangs who successfully have dealt in cocaine from South America, now sell black tar heroin as a cheap, easy drug to young and inexperienced people or to addicts who have established dependency on heroin or cocaine.
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