Updated on February 6, 2024
4 min read

What Is Black Tar Heroin?

Key Takeaways

What is Black Tar Heroin?

Black tar heroin is a dangerous form of heroin. Its dark color is due to the crude processing method that leaves behind impurities. It’s also usually cut with other low-quality substances.

Black tar heroin is less refined, cheaper, and more available than other types of heroin. Most users inject black tar heroin after dissolving and diluting it, while others choose to smoke the substance.

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Black Tar Heroin Addiction & Withdrawal

Trent Carter, a seasoned nurse from Curednation who specializes in addiction medicine, says that heroin, including black tar heroin, is highly addictive. Regular use can often lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Withdrawal symptoms begin 8 to 24 hours after the last use and can last 4 to 10 days. The withdrawal symptoms are so severe it compels users to seek more of the drug to end their discomfort. 

These symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Anxiety
  • Intense drug cravings.

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Side Effects of Black Tar Heroin Addiction

The effects of black tar heroin are similar to conventional powder heroin. Both substances have serious adverse impacts on your health.

According to Carter, side effects of black tar heroin include:

  • Euphoria
  • Dry mouth
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Heavy extremities
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Collapsed veins from injections
  • Chronic constipation
  • Damaged tissues
  • Respiratory issues
  • Mental health disorders

Dangers & Risks of Black Tar Heroin

Approximately 75 percent of black tar heroin is cut with toxic additives and contaminants. Carter also mentioned that the impurities in black tar heroin can increase the risk of health complications.

People who use black tar heroin also face an increased risk of developing:1

  • Venous sclerosis (hardened veins)
  • Necrotizing fasciitis (a flesh-eating disease)
  • Damaged veins and arteries
  • Organ damage (kidney, liver, etc.)
  • Infections (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, etc.)
  • Fatal overdose

Other risks of black tar heroin addiction include:

Wound Botulism

Multiple reports have linked black tar heroin to botulism, a rare illness that develops from bacteria infecting a wound. The toxin attacks your body’s nerves, making breathing difficult and causing muscle weakness. 

In severe cases, people can die from wound botulism. Even if treated with an antitoxin, they may need to stay in the hospital for weeks or months to recover.

Heroin Overdose

The rate of heroin overdose has been increasing at a staggering rate, from 1 percent in 2010 to 4.9 in 2016 and 2017.6 Anyone who uses any form of heroin is at risk of an overdose.

Signs of heroin overdose include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Small pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • Weak pulse
  • Blue nails, skin, or lips
  • Weak or shallow breathing
  • Coma

If you or someone you know is overdosing on heroin, call 911 immediately.

What Does Black Tar Heroin Look Like?

Black tar heroin is dark in color and feels like roofing tar or coal. It varies from dark gray to obsidian and has a sticky tar-like consistency. Sometimes, you can see little chunks of impurities mixed in.

Black Tar Heroin
Black Tar Heroin 2
Black Tar Heroin 4
Black Tar Heroin 3

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Who Uses Black Tar Heroin?

Black tar heroin addiction is usually divided into two categories:

  • Heroin inhalers
  • Injection drug users

Inhalers typically have higher wages and fewer problems, according to the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). Injection users often are older, have experienced jail time, have gone to rehab, and have been diagnosed with hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, or gonorrhea.3

Treatment Options for Heroin Abuse & Addiction

Black tar heroin addiction treatment is similar to other opioid treatment approaches. Behavioral therapy is the foundation of treatment. Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is often added to the treatment program.

Seeking help at a professional treatment center help will greatly increase your chances of recovery. Contact a local rehab center to find out about their services. 

A comprehensive heroin recovery program should include:

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Updated on February 6, 2024

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