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What Does Black Tar Heroin Smell Like?

    what does black tar heroin smell like

    What Does Black Tar Heroin Smell Like?

    Black Tar Heroines Effects. Dangers Of Black Tar Heroin. Does Black Tar Heroin Smell Different From Other Forms Of Heroin? Black Tar Heroin Addiction & Treatment

    What is Black Tar Heroin?

    Black tar heroin is a dangerous type of heroin, and it looks different compared to powdered heroin. It resembles a sticky chunk of blackish brownish substance. It is produced in a very crude way and is comparatively unrefined compared to white powder heroin [1]. Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid made from morphine, a naturally occurring opiate in the poppy plant. An opioid is a drug that activates opioid receptors in the brain. Black tar heroin is a controlled substance with an extremely high potential for addiction, and in the case of overdose, can be deadly.

    Black tar heroin, also known as “Black Dragon,” is a smokable form of heroin. It can be dissolved and heated so it can be shot intravenously through needles. Black tar heroin can have potent analgesic and depressant effects. It enters the brain rapidly and binds to opioid receptors on cells located in many areas, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure and in controlling heart rate, sleeping, and breathing. People believe that black tar heroin isn’t as pure and think that it isn’t as strong as its white powder form. However, it is just as powerful. This mistake can easily lead to people overdosing, thinking that they need more to get the same high.

    Black tar heroin has been around for over 100 years, its popularity in the U.S. began in the 1970s because it is cheaper and easier to produce than its white counterpart [2]. Most street heroin is “cut” with other drugs or with substances such as starch, sugar, quinine, powdered milk, strychnine, and fentanyl. To overcome an addiction to black heroin, treatment within an inpatient drug rehab program is recommended.

    Black Tar Heroines Effects

    Black tar heroin effects can include euphoria, relaxation, and feeling very 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.

    When someone uses this drug intravenously, they’re at a higher risk of getting an infection at the site where they inject it. Common infections include necrotizing fasciitis, staph infections, and cellulitis. There’s also a higher risk of damage to the veins in individuals who inject black tar heroin, and it can lead to a collapsed vein.

    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:

    Brain Damage

    This drug releases excessive amounts of dopamine in the brain. This depletes neurotransmitters of brain chemicals and teaches the brain that it needs heroin to function. This causes withdrawal in the absence of heroin and can lead to mental disorder symptoms of anxiety and depression. Black tar heroin can also cause frontal lobe damage, which impacts attention, memory, and spatial awareness.

    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 the user to perceive even the slightest touch as painful. This can prove especially problematic for someone who takes opioids or people who take opioids for chronic pain.


    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.

    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

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

    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, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA)[6].

    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.

    Does Black Tar Heroin Smell Different From Other Forms Of Heroin?

    The smell of heroin can be one of its defining characteristics, as people often say it has a strong vinegar-like smell. In many cases, black tar heroin smells more strongly of vinegar and this is because of the chemical processes that are used to make it. Higher-quality heroin that’s purer tends to have been washed after it’s synthesized, so it may have minimal odor. Black tar heroin, since it is less pure and may have additives, will usually have a stronger smell. Depending on what it’s mixed with, the black tar heroin smell may differ from batch to batch slightly, but regardless of what the exact smell seems like, it will still be more pungent than purer heroin.

    Black Tar Heroin Smell

    As part of the manufacturing process, the black tar is often mixed with acid and other additives to increase the high. The additives and other chemicals contribute to the vinegar smell of the powdered version of heroin. With that in mind, because of the processing with other acids, black tar heroin has a much stronger vinegar smell than any other form of heroin. People who use black tar heroin have historically used a number of descriptive terms to describe what black tar heroin smells like.

    Black tar heroin may smell like:

    • Vinegar
    • Garbage
    • Burnt sweets
    • Burning molasses
    • Opium
    • Unidentifiable chemicals

    What heroin smells like can vary according to different factors, including substances it’s been cut with, how it’s used, and how it was produced.

    Brown Powder Heroin

    Heroin typically comes in three forms: a white powder, a brown powder, and a black, gooey substance known as black tar heroin. Brown powder heroin is usually a more highly refined form of heroin than black tar. It can also be crushed black tar heroin that has been mixed, or cut, with antihistamines, lactose, laxatives, coffee creamer, or other substances. Adding these other ingredients makes the black tar heroin easier to inhale or snort.

    Because it can be smoked or snorted and doesn’t have to be injected with a needle, brown powder has gained popularity among suburban teens and others who might never before have considered using heroin. The brown powder can range in color from light beige to a dirty brown depending on its cutting agents. It usually has a strong vinegar smell, similar to black tar heroin, but the smell of heroin can differ dramatically depending on its chemical components and purity.

    White Powder Heroin

    Although white powder heroin is more refined than other forms of the drug, heroin sold on the streets is never pure heroin. Dealers typically mix the drug with cutting agents to stretch their supply and increase profit. Common cutting agents include lactose, quinine, talc, sugar, and caffeine. These additives can change what heroin looks like. They account for variations in color, which can range from white to beige to pink.

    Because white powder heroin dissolves easily in water, most heroin users shoot the drug. Some people snort it. It’s not usually smoked because it burns at a much higher temperature than other forms of heroin. White powder heroin sometimes smells like vinegar and has a bitter taste. The fine white powder can easily be mistaken for cocaine.

    Difference Between Heroin and Black Tar Heroin

    Not all forms of heroin smell the same. Powder forms of heroin sometimes referred to as hell dust or China white, will likely give off a chemical or vinegary smell.

    The difference in the smell comes from how it’s made and common substances these different forms may be cut with.

    Powder forms of heroin have to go through a more extensive refining process than black tar heroin, which can alter its smell.

    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 vs injecting heroin)

    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. Continuing to use 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

    Signs Of Black Tar Heroin Addiction

    The knowledge to spot the signs of heroin addiction could mean the difference between life and death. The most obvious sign is paraphernalia. Finding needles and syringe caps, tin foil, or burnt spoons are all telltale signs of black tar heroin use.

    • You might be able to spot needles or “track marks” on the legs, arms, or feet. As black tar heroin addiction progresses, people may begin to use less visible places such as between the toes to shoot up.
    • Withdrawal symptoms can be another visible sign. Early signs can be cold or flu-like symptoms: runny nose, sweating, vomiting followed by achiness, and chills.
    • Behavioral changes may also be noticeable. Frequent lying, increased desire for privacy or secretiveness, mood swings, and theft may also indicate an addiction. People suffering from addiction also lose interest in activities and hobbies that once provided comfort.

    Black Tar Heroin Addiction Treatment

    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 Behavioral 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.


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