Black Tar Heroin: What Is It And How Is It Used?

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Black tar heroin is a type of cheap and crudely produced heroin that resembles a sticky and hard rock. This type of heroin is most often used intravenously and comes with a number of potential health risks and complications when used this way.

Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin is considered to be the least pure form of heroin. In this sense, it is also usually the cheapest and typically considered to be low-quality heroin.

As an opiate, black tar heroin is a central nervous system depressant that also has strong analgesic effects and can be very addictive.

As a type of heroin, black tar heroin can also be particularly dangerous because it is most often used by intravenous injection directly into a vein or muscle.

What Is Black Tar Heroin?

Black tar heroin is one of the three main types of heroin on the market today. Of the three types of heroin, it is the cheapest and the most impure.

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that is made from morphine that has been extracted from the South American opium poppy plant.

Black tar heroin is the most unrefined and impure form of heroin that is made from the poppy plant and is only around 25% to 30% pure, whereas powder heroin is up to 50% pure.

Where Does Black Tar Heroin Come From?

Most of the black tar heroin that is found in the United States today originated in Mexico. Because of this, black tar heroin is sometimes simply referred to as “Mexican heroin”.

Black tar heroin used to only be available in the southern and western United States, but can now be found across most of the United States.

How Is Black Tar Heroin Used?

Black tar heroin is most commonly used by intravenous injection, though it can be used in other ways. To inject, the black tar heroin must first be heated and dissolved into a liquid form.

Black tar heroin can also be crushed up into a powder and snorted or smoked. When used this way, other powder substances are usually added to make snorting easier.

In this powder form, black tar heroin is often marketed as brown powder heroin, a type of heroin that is considered higher quality than black tar heroin.

How To Identify Black Tar Heroin

It is relatively easy to identify black tar heroin because it looks so different from other types of heroin and other drugs and substances as well.

Appearance Of Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin looks very similar to its name. It is dark in color and hard and sticky in consistency and texture.

Some people describe black tar heroin as looking like lumps of coal. For this reason, black tar heroin is sometimes referred to as heroin rock.

Smell Of Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin is often described as smelling similar to vinegar, cat litter, garbage, urine, and dirt, depending on what it has been cut with.

When burned, black tar heroin can give off a sweet smell, resembling burning molasses or burning candies.

What Black Tar Heroin Tastes Like

This type of heroin is not associated with a specific taste, and its taste will depend heavily on what it has been cut with.

It is possible that black tar heroin has more of a chemical taste than the powdered types of heroin because it is more impure and less refined.

Dangers And Risks Of Black Tar Heroin

While all types of heroin come with a lot of potential dangers and risks, black tar heroin comes with additional risks because of its tendency to be used intravenously.

Long-Term Health Risks

Injection drug use is known for being particularly unsafe and can cause a number of unwanted long-term side effects.

Side effects from IV heroin drug use can include:

  • hepatitis
  • bacterial infections such as necrotizing fasciitis
  • soft tissue infections
  • collapsed veins
  • wound botulism

Heroin Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive substance, no matter what form it comes in. Black tar heroin is commonly abused by those who are addicted to heroin because it is cheap and widely available.

As one of the most addictive illicit drugs available on the streets today, it is also known to cause severe and uncomfortable heroin-related withdrawal symptoms.

Risk Of Overdose

Like all types of heroin, black tar heroin carries with it a high risk of overdose. The risk with black tar heroin may actually be even higher because of its tendency to be used by injection.

IV injection comes with a high risk of overdose because this method of heroin administration delivers an intense, but short-lived high.

The high from intravenous use is so short, people have a tendency to repeat doses in frequent succession. As more of the drug is added to a person’s system, the risk of overdose increases.

A heroin overdose is life-threatening, and the emergency department should be called immediately.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Overcoming an addiction to heroin is often easier said than done, but there is professional addiction treatment available to make the process more comfortable.


It is a good idea for anyone who is detoxing from heroin addiction to do so under the observation and direction of medical and healthcare professionals.

Medical detox is especially beneficial for those who are living with a severe addiction to heroin, as the constant supervision prevents them from being able to relapse.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use typically involves the use of methadone or buprenorphine and can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting

These medications must be used carefully because they also have the ability to cause addiction. They are, however, generally considered safe.

Finding Substance Abuse Treatment For Heroin Addiction Today

Please consider calling our addiction helpline if you or one of your loved ones is currently living with an addiction to black tar heroin or any other substance use disorder.

It is important to remember that you are not alone and help is available. We can answer any questions that you have about alcohol and drug addiction and help you get started today.

For 24/7 Treatment Help Call:
(888) 859-4403

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