Black tar heroin has different side effects from powder heroin, largely because it is typically used through injection, rather than through snorting or smoking.
This method of drug abuse provides a direct route into the bloodstream and brain, causing an immediate euphoric high in the user.
When the drug is improperly injected, or repeatedly injected, it may cause vein collapse, or cause pooling of the drug in areas below the skin and muscle.
Black tar heroin injection puts a person at high risk of health complications that include:
- vein and tissue damage
- limb amputation
Risks Of Black Tar Heroin Injection
The injection method leads to common medical complications that include skin and soft tissue infections resulting in limb amputation or death.
Many individuals who inject heroin avoid getting medical care when developing skin abscesses and infections.
Instead, they may resort to inadequate self-care methods at home, and avoid seeking necessary and oftentimes life-saving medical treatment.
Side Effects Of Injecting Black Tar Heroin
Abscesses and infection may develop after a single time of injecting the black tar heroin.
Without treatment, emergency medical complications may develop and lead to amputations, skin grafts, sepsis, and death.
Dangers of injecting black tar heroin include:
- bacterial infection
- necrotizing fasciitis
- skin wound botulism
- exposure to HIV and Hepatitis
Out of all hospitalizations related to skin and soft tissue infection caused by the injection of heroin, cellulitis and abscesses are the most common diagnosis.
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Why Is Black Tar Heroin Drug Use Dangerous?
Infections caused by black tar heroin are likely due, in part, to the drug being cut with contaminated adulterants such as soil, which provides favorable conditions for bacterial growth.
The thick consistency of black tar heroin itself causes an increased risk of vein damage.
Risk factors for skin/soft tissue infection in those who use black tar heroin may include:
- poor injection hygiene methods that include licking the needle before injection
- drawing blood into the syringe before injection
- not washing hands before injection
- subcutaneous and intramuscular injection
- frequency of use
- injecting a combination of drugs together
Getting Help For Black Tar Heroin Addiction
In addition to the health dangers of black tar heroin, regular use of the drug can lead to tolerance, chronic addiction, dangerous health complications, and overdose.
If you or a loved one has a heroin addiction, or if you have questions about rehab programs, contact an addiction specialist today.
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- Clinical Infectious Diseases — Risk Factors for Skin and Soft-Tissue Abscesses among Injection Drug Users: A Case-Control Study
- Harm Reduction Journal — Self-care habits among people who inject drugs with skin and soft tissue infections: a qualitative analysis
- International Journal of Infectious Diseases — High prevalence of abscesses and self-treatment among injection drug users inTijuana, Mexico
- PubMed — Injection-site vein loss and soft tissue abscesses associated with black tar heroin injection: A cross-sectional study of two distinct populations in USA