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The Signs & Risks Of Smoking Black Tar Heroin

Is Smoking Heroin The Same As “Freebasing”? Effects of Smoking Black Tar Heroin. Dangers Of Black Tar Heroin. Black Tar Heroin Addiction & Treatment Options

How Is Black Tar Heroin Smoked?

Heroin is a highly addictive, semi-synthetic drug extracted from the opium poppy. Heroin quality and consistency vary, from the white powder to the thick, black tar heroin. While powdered heroin is commonly snorted or injected, black tar heroin is often smoked, a method of ingestion users call “chasing the dragon.” Black tar heroin, also known as “Black Dragon,” is a smokable form of heroin.

It can also be dissolved and heated so it can be shot intravenously through needles. Additional ways you can identify black tar heroin include inspecting the odor and the texture of the substance. This begs the question, ” what does black tar heroin smell like?” To overcome an addiction to black heroin, treatment within an inpatient drug rehab program is recommended.

When you think of heroin, there is probably a consistent set of images that enter your head. You think of an open flame, a spoon, and a needle, right? That’s true of standard powdered heroin, but the black tar heroin is a bit different in a lot of ways, and believe it or not, it’s actually far more prevalent. Smoking black tar heroin is the most common method, not injected (though it is possible to inject black tar, just with some increased risks).

To smoke black tar heroin, users typically use a piece of aluminum foil and a cylindrical device. A small piece of black tar heroin is placed on top of the foil. The black tar heroin is then melted by heating the foil with a lighter. As the heroin melts, it emits fumes that can be inhaled.

smoking black tar heroin
Effects of smoking black tar heroin are like smoking other kinds of heroin but with more risk

Is Smoking Heroin The Same As “Freebasing”?

People smoking black tar heroin will experience a rapid tolerance and a downward spiral of every aspect of their lives. Still, to understand the best way to fight back against black tar heroin, it helps to know what you’re looking at. So let’s run down exactly how smoking black tar heroin is done, its difference from freebasing, what it does to you, and everything else you may need to know about it.

Using a foil to smoke black heroin is not technically freebasing because it doesn’t use the same delivery system. People freebase to get a dose of a drug in its purest form, making it more potent. Freebasing a drug like heroin would require the use of a specialized glass pipe and the ability to get the heroin to the point of boiling. Using a glass pipe is relatively common among people who smoke heroin. The direct connection between the bowl where the heroin is melting and the user’s mouth allows for more concentrated vapor. Freebasing carries a heightened risk of overdose.

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Effects of Smoking Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin effects can differ depending on how an individual ingests it. Injecting the drug produce the quickest and most intense effects while the effects from snorting are slower and less intense. Smoking black tar heroin works at the mid-range level, producing a fairly intense “high” at a slower rate than injecting.

Black tar heroin effects can include euphoria, relaxation, and feeling exhausted. As with other forms of the drug, users can feel impaired, nauseous, and like they lack concentration and coordination. Other black tar heroin effects include itching, constipation, diarrhea, and dry mouth.

One of the most destructive black tar heroin effects, aside from overdosing, is the risk of dependence and addiction. Black tar heroin is also dangerous due to its unknown content [3]. Black tar heroin often contains additives and substances that can cause infections and health problems on their own.

Physical Effects Of Smoking Black Tar Heroin 

Smoking black tar heroin induces effects faster than snorting it. You can generally expect to feel the effects in a matter of seconds rather than minutes. Aside from the short-lived feeling of euphoria, there are a lot of harmful physical effects of black tar heroin. Nausea, dry mouth, and heavy limbs are all common physical effects. Once the initial rush has worn off, drowsiness sets in. The user may drift in and out of consciousness and be unable to respond coherently.

During this time, breathing and heart function are slowed. They may become dangerously slow, needing emergency medical care. Those are just the short-term side effects. With chronic use, smoking black tar heroin can lead to chronic pneumonia, damage to the nasal tissue, lung damage, and other issues.

Smoking Black Tar Heroin
If you notice that someone you care about is exhibiting some of these behaviors, there is a possibility that they are using black tar heroin.

Mental Effects Of Smoking Black Tar Heroin

Studies show that black tar heroin consumption damages the brain. This damage creates neural and hormonal imbalances that impair basic functions. Heroin smoking may make it difficult for the user to make important decisions. It may also make it harder for the person to regulate their behavior, especially if they’re stressed. The user may even notice that their mental health is deteriorating.

Behavioral Effects Of Smoking Black Tar Heroin

The physical and mental effects of smoking black tar heroin combined with the high level of dependence that the drug causes will result in dramatic changes to the user’s behavior. At the very least, the user may be irritable and unpredictable. If the addiction becomes severe enough, the person may find themselves doing things they wouldn’t normally do to avoid heroin withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, black tar heroin also produces a high degree of tolerance, so the person will likely need even more as time goes on.

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Dangers Of Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin puts your physical and mental health in jeopardy. Taking any form of heroin comes with the same risks. Short-term and long-term effects of black tar heroin abuse can include:


Black tar heroin can suppress and decrease T and B immune cells. It can lower someone’s ability to combat infections, bacteria, and viruses. The way a person uses black tar heroin and other forms of the drug can also put them at risk for infection. 

Individuals who use black tar heroin as an injection drug and share needles are at risk for hepatitis C and HIV. In the case of black tar heroin abuse, they are frequently mixed with alcohol or other toxic substances, which increases the risk of overdose.

Black tar heroin users were at higher risk for wound botulism. Wound botulism is a potentially lethal, flaccid, paralysis that results when spores of Clostridium botulinum germinate in a wound and elaborate neurotoxin. This can lead to muscle weakness and breathing difficulties and can be deadly.

Brain Damage

Excessive use of black tar heroin can cause a lack of oxygen to the brain leading to overdose and long-term effects on movement, mood, vision, and other vital functions. More severe heroin overdoses may cause a person to stop breathing entirely, triggering even more severe brain damage. In this case, the effects are similar to a stroke. Depending on the area of the brain deprived of oxygen, a person may have a wide range of symptoms, including:

  • Trouble with reading and writing
  • Memory loss
  • Vision and hearing loss
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Problems walking or moving
  • Irritability, depression, or confusion

Opioids such as black tar heroin make the brain more sensitive to pain, causing some people to perceive even the slightest touch as painful. This can prove especially problematic for people who take opioids for chronic pain.

Heart Attack

Chronic black tar heroin injectors may develop collapsed veins, and infection of the valves and heart linings. Other cardiovascular effects include heart failure, blood vessel damage, low blood pressure, collapsed veins, and heart attack. Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests triggered by opioid overdose are a significant cause of death among adults 25 to 64.

Lung Disease

Lung problems, including various types of pneumonia, may result from the poor health of the user as well as from heroin’s depressing effects on respiration. In addition to the effects of the drug itself, street heroin often contains toxic contaminants or additives that can clog blood vessels leading to the lungs, liver, kidneys, or brain, causing permanent damage to these vital organs. Opioid use was associated with an increased risk for adverse respiratory outcomes, including respiratory-related death, among older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases COPD.

smoking black tar heroin
Black tar addiction affects the brain, and so beating it isn’t as simple as just giving up the drug. It’s not an issue of willpower or strength. 

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Black Tar Heroin Addiction

Black tar heroin addiction can result in many damaging consequences including; mental and physical health problems, overdose, and family, social, and legal problems. Smoking black tar heroin, despite the negative consequences, is a classic sign of substance use disorder.

As black tar heroin enters the brain, it activates opioid receptors that release dopamine, the neurotransmitter that signals the sense of pleasure and relaxation. Depending on how the black tar heroin is ingested, how potent it is, how much is used, and the tolerance of the person using it, the dopamine floods the brain and causes euphoria.

This “rush” sends a sense of warmth and numbness throughout the person’s body as it flows through the bloodstream, followed by the depression of central nervous system (CNS) functions including; reduction of pain and other stimuli, depressed heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and the sedative effects known as “nodding off”. 

Symptoms of Black Tar Heroin Addiction

Symptoms of black tar heroin addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Changes in appearance
  • Lack of motivation
  • Extreme drowsiness or nodding off
  • Slurred speech
  • Shortness of breath
  • Constipation
  • Collapsed veins
  • Severe itchiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Black Tar Heroin Overdose

Whatever the form, prescription opioids, powdered heroin, or black tar heroin, a user is always at risk for overdose. 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 permanent brain damage and coma. In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of a medicine called naloxone (brand name Narcan) to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. This type of medicine is called an antidote.

There is evidence that drug dealers may be adding fentanyl to black tar heroin to increase the potency of their products. Therefore, many users who test positive for fentanyl and its analogs do not realize that they took the substance. Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is used as a pain reliever and as an anesthetic. It is approximately 50-100 times more potent than morphine.

Signs Of Black Tar Heroin Overdose

  • Slow pulse
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Bluish lips and nails
  • Stomach or intestinal spasms
  • Passing out
  • Uncontrollable muscle movements
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Shallow or no breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak pulse
  • Delirium
  • Dry mouth
  • Tongue discoloration
  • Very small pupils (pinpoint pupils)
smoking black tar heroin
If you believe your loved one is struggling with addiction to black tar heroin, We level Up detox can help.

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smoking black tar heroin

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NAATP’s leadership is essential. Membership in the NAATP aids in quality control. [2]

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smoking black tar heroin

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Heroin Addiction Treatment Center Near Me

Black tar heroin addiction is a chronic disease and should be treated the same as other chronic diseases. Like those, it should constantly be monitored and managed. Heroin is a type of opioid. Opioid addiction treatment is different for each individual. The main purpose of opioid addiction treatment is to help the person stop using the drug. Opioid addiction treatment also can help the person avoid using it again in the future.

The body does go through specific symptom stages known as the opioid withdrawal timeline. The opioid withdrawal timeline varies from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of opioid that was used, how long it was used, and any other substances that may have been used in conjunction with opioids as well. Medically managed withdrawal opioid detox ensures the individual remains safe and stays as comfortable as possible.

Detox Treatment

The first step in treatment is medical detox. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to black tar heroin abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Now that we’ve answered the question” what does black tar heroin smell like?”, hopefully, this will give you an idea of what drugs you’re dealing with. If you or your loved one is suffering from Opioid withdrawal symptoms and addictions, and at some point experienced opioid overdose symptoms, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional opioid addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. Contact us today at We Level Up treatment facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We offer an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

smoking black tar heroin
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[1] US Department of Justice –
[2] NYC Health –
[3] NCBI –
[4] CDC –
[5] WHO –
[6] Black Tar Heroin Addiction – We Level Up NJ

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