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

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 7, 2020

Black tar heroin is a low-quality, inexpensively produced form of heroin, which is an opiate derived from the poppy plant.

Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 7, 2020
Black Tar Heroin

Mainly produced in Mexico and smuggled across the southern border, black tar heroin has quickly risen to become the most predominant type of heroin available in the U.S. market.

Like other types of heroin, black tar has a high potential for physical and psychological dependency.

Mexican Black Tar Heroin

The majority of black tar heroin is produced in Mexico and brought into the United States across the southern border.

Traditionally only available in the southern and western states, this form of heroin has become readily available in markets across the nation.

Since 2015, most of the heroin sold in the U.S. has come from Mexico. In 2017, heroin from Mexico accounted for 91 percent of all heroin seized by the DEA.

What Does Black Tar Heroin Look Like?

This form of heroin looks similar to black roofing tar, just like its name. It is usually dark in color, ranging from black to dark orange or brown, with a sticky or sometimes hard, rock-like consistency.

The dark color is an indication of the crude process by which black tar is manufactured. This primitive manufacturing process makes the heroin less expensive but also less pure.

Can You Shoot (Inject) Black Tar Heroin (IV Use)?

The most popular method of use of black tar is injection. The substance can be injected into a vein or muscle by diluting and heating it.

Injecting black tar heroin is particularly dangerous due to its impure nature.

Individuals who inject are at risk for a variety of health complications including:

  • venous sclerosis
  • hardening of the veins
  • vein collapse
  • other bacterial infections

Can You Snort Black Tar Heroin?

For those who do not want to use a needle, black tar heroin can be administered in other ways. Insufflation, or snorting, of the substance is possible.

This is accomplished by heating the drug and mixing it with water, then snorting it through the nose using a glass tube or medicine dropper. This is not a very common method.

Can You Smoke Black Tar Heroin?

Black tar can be heated and inhaled. Rather than actually smoking black tar heroin, the addicted individual vaporizes the drug by indirectly heating a piece of foil that contains the substance.

The vapor that is produced is then inhaled using a straw or tube. This method is commonly referred to as “chasing the dragon,” and can be easily detected due to the strong black tar heroin smell, which is similar to the smell of vinegar.

Side Effects Of Black Tar Heroin

The side effects of using black tar are similar to the side effects of using other types of heroin and opioids.

Some side effects include:

  • feeling of euphoria
  • itching
  • constipation
  • warm, flushed skin
  • constricted pupils
  • slurred speech
  • dry mouth
  • weight loss
  • mood swings and irritability

Health Issues Related To Black Tar Heroin Use

Heroin use can lead to many different health issues, especially with long-term use.

Some health issues that can arise due to the use of black tar include:

  • collapsed veins
  • mental health issues
  • sexual dysfunction
  • higher risk for Hepatitis B and C
  • kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • skin infections

Recovering From Heroin Addiction Is Possible

In 2016, the number of people who reported current heroin use had nearly tripled since 2007. Although heroin use is on the rise in the U.S., recovery is still possible.

With the nation in the grips of an opioid crisis there are also a growing number of treatment options available to help those struggling with heroin addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin abuse, there is hope to get better. Contact us today to learn more about rehab programs for heroin addiction for you or a loved one.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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