Since 2010, heroin overdoses have increased five-fold. In 2017 alone, 15,000 Americans died from heroin use. These scary rates reflect the power that heroin can have over an individual.
While a lot of people still choose to inject heroin, others find ways to smoke it, so as to avoid the dangers of sharing needles.
But smoking heroin — whichever way an individual chooses to smoke it — can be just as hazardous as injecting it.
How To Smoke Heroin
Smoking heroin is referred to as “chasing the dragon.” It’s the fastest way to get heroin into the system. While it is more difficult to overdose, adverse reactions can and do happen.
Heroin is typically smoked in one of several different ways. It is either inhaled in powder form as a vapor through a tube or straw, through a pipe, or even as a cigarette.
How To Smoke Powder Heroin
Many choose to smoke heroin in its powdered base form. This is the easiest way to smoke it. Unlike white powder (or “salt,” which is snorted or injected), brown “base” needs to be heated up.
It is heated in a mixture of mild acid and water. This creates a vapor that can be inhaled through a straw or tube. This is essentially what “chasing the dragon” means.
White powder heroin is often rolled up into cigarettes and smoked that way. Brown and tar heroin, however, are more popularly smoked in the vapor form.
How To Smoke Black Tar Heroin
Black tar heroin is gummy, sticky, and dark black. It is also referred to as simply tar, Mexican tar, or Chiva. While it can be injected, many opt to smoke it instead. Those who go this route end up smoking heroin on tin foil.
Tar or brown heroin are placed on top of a sheet of aluminum foil. The foil is heated until the heroin becomes vapor. Then, the vapor is inhaled through a tube or straw. This gets the heroin directly into the person’s system and eliminates the use of needles.
Straws and rolled-up dollar bills are the cheapest types of tubes that people use to smoke heroin. However, some opt to use tin foil or glass tubes as a type of pipe for smoking.
The Dangers Of Smoking Heroin
The side effects of smoking heroin are, at their best, painful. At their worst, they’re deadly.
Recently, there have been an alarming number of cases involving overdoses from heroin laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
It gets laced into heroin because it takes a lot less to produce a high. Too much fentanyl can lead to respiratory failure and, sadly, death.
When a person smokes any type of heroin, they run the risk of causing irritation to their lungs. Those with asthma run the risk of having an asthma attack while trying to smoke heroin. Also, there is a minor risk of contracting hepatitis through the sharing of tubes or straws.
There are other highly unpleasant side effects, too. For example, black tar is known to cause skin lesions including necrotizing fasciitis, a nasty skin-eating bacteria. Constipation, nausea, menstrual irregularities for women, and a lowered sex drive can also result from heroin use.
How To Stop Heroin Use
It might seem like there is no way back from a heroin addiction, but there is hope. Contacting a specialist can set you or your loved one on the path to recovery.
Many individuals have successfully completed treatment programs at alcohol and drug rehab centers and are no longer dependent on heroin. All it takes is one call for help. To learn more about the available treatment options, contact us today.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Heroin Overdose Data
- HarmReduction.org — H is for Heroin
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — What is fentanyl?