Black Tar Heroin
Since 2010, heroin deaths have increased by nearly 250 percent. This is a staggering statistic. It is even more disturbing considering that much of this is due to black-tar heroin.
This variant of heroin is a cheap, easy-to-obtain variant that differs from the white or brown powder you may know of. It is taken using a heating spoon, injection needle, and a rubber band.
In this article, we will be starting from the beginning, finding the history of where this drug began. We will also be going through side effects and typical treatments for those addicted to this variant.
Table of Contents
Where Did Heroin Originate?
In the early 1800s, morphine was discovered as a cure for the drug of the times: opium. After it was found that morphine was addictive, an English chemist synthesized heroin from morphine. In the late 1800s, the Bayer Pharmaceutical Company attempted to use heroin as a replacement for morphine. Once again, they found the drug to be addictive. Eventually, this drug was banned from the United States.
Where Did Black Tar Heroin Come From?
After the US decided this drug was too harmful, it spread to other available areas. Mexico is where it is primarily produced. With relatively easy access to the US, it is difficult to police this drug. Los Angeles has been heavily impacted by this drug.
How Do People Get Addicted to this Drug?
With drugs like this, many people first get into them through the abuse of prescription drugs. Opioid-based painkillers are incredibly potent. People who need to take them for any reason, such as a sports injury, should be incredibly careful and follow the doctor’s orders.
For those who do not follow doctor’s orders, their first step may be to find a way to get more. After burning out on the cost of prescription drugs, they will go to other sources. These sources will eventually lead them to street drugs, such as black tar heroin. Leading a sober life after this is nearly impossible.
Side Effects of Black Tar Heroin
Many of the same side-effects of heroin still apply for black tar heroin. Both are taken in similar ways. Below is a list of short-term side-effects one may experience while taking the drug.
- Heavy limbs
- Falling in and out of consciousness
- Dry mouth
- Nausea and vomiting
The above side-effects are limited to short-term use. The drug beings to get dangerous when you start taking in the long-term effects.
- Collapsed veins
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Infection in the heart
- Liver, kidney, and lung complications
- Wound botulism
What if the Drug Has Additives?
The drug can be combined with other ingredients to cut down on the cost of the product. These can include sugar, powdered milk, or starch. These can clog the veins that they are injected in. If you short the material, it can cause additional clogs elsewhere.
People who take these drugs also have a tendency to share needles. These people have a high chance of transmitting a variety of diseases. These include hepatitis B, hepatitis A, or HIV.
What Happens During an Overdose?
Those who overdose on heroin will feel themselves begin to shut down. The victim’s breathing will either slow down or stop altogether, known as hypoxia. In extreme cases, this can lead them to go into a coma or die.
To address this concern, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has provided a toolkit to assist communities. This kit helps local governments in providing a framework for handling situations like this. Below are some additional signs to keep an eye out for an overdose.
- Low blood pressure
- Tongue discoloration
- Stomach spasms
- Small pupils
- Passing out
- Blue lips or nails
How to Quit Black Tar Heroin
There are a variety of ways one can quit this drug. Given that 2016 had 948 thousand people have been confirmed as users, there are some established options available. We will go through a few below.
Can I Quit Without Help?
Some have been able to quit just based on grit, but this option often leads to quick relapses for a couple of reasons. First, without a support system to fall back on, many people will quickly fall back into old habits. Having an accountability partner is essential to ensure that you are following through.
Second, the withdrawal symptoms for any drug are painful. Heroin is particularly distressing, given the high level of chemical dependence it produces. Common symptoms include nausea, intense cravings, depression, muscle spasms, and abdominal pain. That is why it is a good idea to go through a medical detox plan.
Medical Plan for Heroin
Detox, which is the period of initial time coping without the drug, is a process that can be anywhere from one to ten days. Doctors will often prescribe therapy to deal with these issues. Many of them will also provide non-opioid medication to soothe some of the more intense symptoms. In severe cases, doctors may give a weaker opioid to help the user cope.
Many of those more extreme cases will need to go to a clinic to address their overdoses. Of course, support from their friends and loved ones are absolutely important during this journey. The National Association on Mental Illness states that many drug users are prone to have a mental illness. Feel free to read our additional blog on dual diagnosis for more information.
Black Tar Heroin is a unique variant to heroin that is sticky and is sent into the United States through its production in Mexico. With a long history that brings it back to chemists trying to beat the addictive nature of morphine, heroin has had a long journey in getting to this point. With nearly 1 million people affected based on figures from 2016, it is an issue that needs more attention.
If you know someone who is suffering from heroin addiction, help them. If you are suffering from this addiction, reaching out for help is the first step to recovery.