Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin is a low-quality, cheap form of heroin. As an opiate, black tar heroin can have potent analgesic and depressant effects. However, it is highly addictive and can be dangerous. As it sounds, black tar heroin is a cruder form of illicit opioid that is black and sticky in appearance and texture. Also popularly referred to as Mexican black tar heroin, it is a significant export for Mexican cartels. The drug is mainly found west of the Mississippi River in the U.S. and Canada.

Many hear that black tar heroin isn’t as pure and think it isn’t as potent as its white powder form; however, it is just as strong. This misconception can easily lead to people overdosing, thinking they need more to get the same high. Because of its crude form, the sticky tar cannot be used intravenously unless it is diluted into a liquid, typically by heating with a spoon. People who have black tar heroin will also smoke it, often on tin foil, or ingest it another way.

Effects Of Black Tar Heroin

All heroin carries the same effects. It is commonly believed that black tar heroin is less pure than other forms of the drug, but that is essentially a misconception. While there is a widespread belief that white heroin is more refined, it is often cut with other powders to keep the cost down. Black tar heroin is typically around 30% hygienic due to the faster, cruder process that the heroin goes through, but the actual purity can vary tremendously. While the method used to create black tar, heroin makes it cheaper to produce and buy, it also often makes the heroin less pure and more dangerous.

Effects Of Heroin

  • Contentment
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Relieved Tension
  • Drowsiness
  • Apathy
Black tar heroin causes an extreme, almost instantaneous, and rush.
Black tar heroin causes an extreme, almost instantaneous, and rush

Anyone who uses black tar heroin will feel these effects from the first time they use it. Unfortunately, these are also the desired effects that make the drug so addictive. While both long- and short-term black tar heroin users are equally likely to experience an overdose, the longer someone uses heroin, the more likely they will develop other disorders and diseases.

Long Term Effects Of Heroin

  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins (from intravenous use)
  • Damaged tissue (where the drug is ingested)
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses (swollen tissue filled with pus)
  • Constipation and stomach cramps
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Lung disease
  • Mental disorders
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in women

Signs Of Overdose From Black Tar Heroin

Signs Of Heroin Overdose Include, But Aren’t Limited To:

  • Shallow or no breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Dry mouth
  • Tongue discoloration
  • Tiny pupils (pinpoint pupils)
  • Slow pulse
  • Bluish lips and nails
  • Stomach or intestinal spasms
  • Delirium
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Passing out
  • Uncontrollable muscle movements
  • Extreme drowsiness

If someone begins exhibiting these symptoms, timely use of naloxone can reverse these symptoms and stop an overdose before it turns fatal.

Black Tar Heroin Vs. Powder Heroin

Black tar heroin and powder forms of heroin are similar, but they are not the same. Although they have the same effects, they can differ in their ingredients and purity. Black tar heroin is a solid form of the drug. Heroin is also processed into powder and liquid form. Black tar heroin is a solid form of illicit drug. Heroin is commonly found as a powder and as a liquid.

Users who inject heroin feel the effects the quickest vs black tar heroin.
Users who inject heroin feel the effects the quickest vs black tar heroin.

Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, Mexico, and Colombia. Heroin can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance is known as black tar heroin[1].

Powder forms may be white or brown. Black tar heroin is a sticky and rock-like substance that may appear dark brown or black. Heroin’s drug composition will influence its texture, solubility, pH, heat stability, weight, volume, and purity. These factors influence whether the drug is snorted, smoked, or injected.

The Main Differences Between Heroin And Black Tar Heroin May Include:

  • Side effects of the drugs
  • Risks of the drugs
  • Dangers specific to the way a person uses the drug (i.e., risks of smoking and injecting heroin)

Health Risks

Some Health Risks When Using Black Tar Heroin Include:

  • Wound Botulism: Wound botulism is a potentially life-threatening disease that can occur from injecting black tar heroin under the skin or into the muscle. A germ called Clostridium botulinum gets into a wound and creates a toxin that attacks the body’s nerves, making it hard to breathe and can cause muscle weakness and even death[2].
  • Venous Sclerosis: Injection of black tar heroin can make the user vulnerable to venous sclerosis, a condition where one’s blood vessel walls become inflamed and gradually hardened. This results in significantly decreased blood flow and render that vessel unusable as an injection site.
  • Tetanus: is another harmful bacterial infection that can develop from injecting heroin contaminated with Clostridium tetani “spores.” If the condition is not treated, it can result in spasms in the neck, jaw, chest, back, fever, sweating, and ultimately death.
  • Necrotizing Fasciitis: Necrotizing fasciitis is a flesh-eating tissue disease caused by injecting black tar heroin contaminated with certain types of bacteria.
  • Gas Gangrene: Injection of black tar heroin can also make one vulnerable to becoming infected with Clostridium perfringens, another toxin-producing bacterium that causes life-threatening death of body tissue.

Black Tar Heroin Addiction

Many who become addicted to heroin do not start heroin because that is what they want. Statistically, the average user will turn to heroin after they’ve already developed an opioid addiction. This is generally from a prescription opioid that they were receiving legally for legitimate pain they had. However, they may not realize that they developed an addiction until their prescription ran out. After that point, they must find a new way to feed the biological craving they are feeling.

Symptoms Of Heroin Addiction

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Changes in appearance
  • Lack of motivation
  • Extreme drowsiness or nodding off
  • Financial problems, borrowing money
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Paranoia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Collapsed veins
  • Severe itchiness
  • Nausea and vomiting

The people addicted to heroin once started by using a prescription opioid. After they’ve grown addicted and their prescription has run out, many turn to purchasing the drug illicitly. After desperation sets in a will, they turn to heroin, a cheaper and more potent alternative. Black tar heroin is generally more affordable and accessible in the Central and Western United States than white heroin and many other opioid options. Unfortunately, this continues to develop from the stigma around addiction. Despite it being a natural, biological response to the introduction of different medications, society still views it as some form of weakness, making it hard for those suffering to come forward.

Black tar heroin addiction can result in many adverse consequences including; physical and mental health problems, overdose, family, social, and legal problems.
Black tar heroin addiction can result in many adverse consequences including; physical and mental health problems, overdose, family, social, and legal problems.

Treatment For Black Tar Heroin Addiction

If you or someone you love suffers from addiction to black tar or any heroin, do not be afraid to seek help. At We Level Up Treatment Center provides world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We work as an integrated team providing support for black tar heroin addiction and other aspects of treatment. So many cases of addiction start innocently, with someone just trying to manage physical pain.

The worst thing you can do is close yourself off. It will just allow your addiction to grow while you push away those closest to you. If you don’t know where to start, reach out to a dedicated treatment provider today. They’re here to help you on your way to long-term recovery. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Heroin. Retrieved on August 16th, 2018, from

Frontline. (1998). Heroin in the Brain. Retrieved on August 16th, 2018, from

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Injection Drug Use and Wound Botulism