Comparing Heroin and Black Tar

Comparing Heroin and Black Tar

Black tar heroin is a type of illegal narcotic derived from morphine. Commonly called black tar heroin, heroin content is not actually what distinguishes this particular drug from other kinds of opiates. While black tar does contain an amount of heroin that can range from 29 to 80 percent, the drug is actually identified by the amount of comparatively crude derivatives of morphine that result from incomplete acetylation. Without delving into the chemistry too exhaustively, black tar is an unrefined product that is made without the complex equipment and chemicals necessary to produce heroin with a high level of purity. Black tar is manufactured primarily in Mexico, and is also commonly referred to as black, brown, manteca, night, or dark. It is also produced in smaller quantities in other parts of Latin America.

Creating Black Tar

Black tar has spread throughout North America, and can also be found in parts of Europe. Since the drug does not require the advanced equipment necessary to make pure heroin in white powder form, it is relatively cheap to manufacture and therefore cheap to purchase. It is less expensive to buy than white powder heroin, and it is much less expensive than commonly abused prescription opiates such as Vicodin or OxyContin.

Using Black Tar

Black tar is distinct in appearance from white powder heroin. It ranges in color from black to light brown, and it is sold either as a cola-like chunk, a course powder, or a sticky substance with the consistency of melted tar, hence the name.

Black tar can be injected in its tar-like form, snorted in its powder form, or smoked. The effects of black tar are similar to the effects of other kinds of opiates, and include feelings of euphoria, relaxation, loss of anxiety, and anesthesia. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and dry mouth.

The most common method of using black tar is injection, and this method poses risks apart from the dangers of the drug itself. For one, black tar users frequently suffer from venous sclerosis, a condition in which the veins shrink and harden. It may become impossible for users to inject intravenously if they develop venous sclerosis, forcing them to resort to subcutaneous injection. However, this method includes its own risks, such as cellulitis and necrotizing fasciitis.

When black tar users inject repeatedly, they put themselves at risk for contracting wound botulism due to the impurities and adulterants present in the drug. The sticky consistency of the drug may also put users at greater risk of HIV if they are washing needles and reusing them.

The cheapness of black tar has helped to make it comparatively popular among young users who are inexperienced with drug use. Complications from drug use are more common when users are inexperienced. In addition, the impurities present in black tar, as well as the inconsistent ratio of heroin present in the drug, make overdose or death from complications due to the adulterants much more likely.

Like all derivatives of morphine, black tar is extremely addictive. Dependency can occur after very few uses, and tolerance can also increase rapidly, causing users to experience irresistible cravings for increasingly large amounts of the drug.

Shared Dangers of Heroin and Black Tar

Emphasizing the dangers of black tar should not be seen as dismissing or understating the dangers of white powder heroin. While some of the dangers of heroin are increased with black tar, the majority of the risks are present in both drugs.

These risks include infectious diseases such as HIV, collapsed veins, heart infections and abscesses, kidney disease, liver disease, depression of the pulmonary system, and pneumonia. Furthermore, even supposedly “pure” white powder heroin can contain impurities that may lead to serious complications.

Heroin is equally as addictive as black tar, and both drugs will cause serious and painful withdrawal symptoms if addicted users attempt to stop taking them. These symptoms can range from restlessness and cold flashes to muscle and bone pain, or diarrhea and vomiting. Occasionally, symptoms and complications of heroin or black tar withdrawal can lead to death.

Morphine derivatives such as heroin and black tar are so addictive that cravings can continue for years after users have detoxed. Heroin users or users of other opiates often remain at risk for relapse for a significant time after getting clean.

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