Heroin is one of the most highly addictive drugs ever produced from the morphine alkaloids of opium. Although eradication efforts of opium and heroin have been in effect for many years, the trafficking of black tar heroin from Mexico and Latin America continues to grow.
It is an easier form of heroin to produce that eliminates some of the synthetic processes normally used in heroin productions. The result is a solid sticky black substance that looks and feels like tar, but, users are not to be deceived, this substance can have more powerful effects than other forms of heroin and addiction can occur rapidly.
Black Tar Heroin Effects
As black tar heroin enters the brain, it activates opioid receptors that release dopamine, the neurotransmitter that signals the sense of pleasure and relaxation. Depending on how the black tar heroin is ingested, how potent it is, how much is used, and the tolerance of the person using it, the dopamine floods the brain and causes euphoria.
This “rush” sends a sense of warmth and numbness throughout the individual’s body as it flows through the bloodstream, followed by the depression of central nervous system (CNS) functions including; reduction of pain and other stimuli, depressed heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and the sedative effects known as “nodding off”.
Black Tar Heroin Addiction
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “In 2011, 4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older (or 1.6 percent) had used heroin at least once in their lives. It is estimated that about 23 percent of individuals who use heroin become dependent on it.” The dependency results in physical and psychological symptoms of cravings and withdrawals when the opioid content in the person’s system drops to certain levels.
Black tar heroin addiction can result in many adverse consequences including; physical and mental health problems, overdose, family, social, and legal problems. Continuing to use black tar heroin, despite the adverse consequences is a classic sign of addiction.
Methods of Using Black Tar Heroin
Because black tar heroin is a sticky “tar-like” substance, in its most common form it may be smoked or heated, dissolved, and injected. These are the preferred methods of ingestion by addicts because they are the fastest routes of opioid chemicals into the brain.
Other methods of using black tar heroin include:
- Grinding into a powder form and mixing it with a dryer substance such as lactose for snorting.
- Dissolving into liquid form with water and injecting it into the nasal passage via an eye dropper – known as “water looping”.
- Drinking the dissolve liquid form, although this is less common because the effects are delayed and diminished.
- Suppository delivery via a syringe into the rectum.
Physical Signs of Black Tar Heroin Addiction
The signs of black tar heroin addiction can be recognized as the progression of use continues and physical signs may include:
- Stained fingers, hands, injection sites, and veins
- Tolerance – Once the person uses black tar heroin for a while, the dosages must be increased in order to achieve the desired effects. This also leads to a shorter duration of the effects.
- Physical dependence that results in withdrawals upon cessation of use According to the 2014 World Drug Report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “An emerging phenomenon among opioid-dependent drug users in the United States of America is that synthetic opioids are being replaced with heroin, driven by the increased availability of heroin in parts of the United States, and lesser costs to regular users to maintain their dependency.”
- Withdrawal symptoms of cravings, nausea, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, runny nose, excessive yawning, sweating, chills, sneezing, weakness, abdominal cramps, increased blood pressure, tachycardia, restlessness, and irritability. Other symptoms can occur in chronic cases.
- Track marks from IV use
- Sores, infections, and life-threatening bacterial infections at injection sites and within soft tissues, veins, or arteries because of the impurities it often contains.
- Organ impairments and immunity problems including respiratory and cardiovascular problems from persistent CNS depression effects and low oxygen flows within the blood.
- Contracting of diseases such as Hepatitis C, HIV, AIDs, tuberculosis, or other infectious or blood borne diseases
- Collapsed or clogged veins because of the sticky substance form
Psychological Signs of Black Tar Heroin Addiction
The most common psychological signs of black tar heroin addiction include:
- Uncontrollable cravings
- Low self esteem, guilt, or social withdrawal
- Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities
- Slowed cognition, drowsiness, sedation, “nodding off” or inability to focus
- Loss of inhibitions and reasonable judgment
- Mood swings or inability to control emotions
- Psychological withdrawals of anxiety, irritability, or depression
Behavioral Signs of Black Tar Heroin Addiction
The alterations in the brain’s chemistry and dopamine functions over time, reinforces the behaviors to use in much the same way as hunger reinforces the need to eat or thirst reinforces the need to drink..
Behavioral signs of black tar heroin addiction include:
- Compulsive drug seeking and use despite the harm or consequences to self or others
- Failing to perform obligations to family, work, or school because of use
- Changing habits and associations to promote drug activities
- Engaging in dangerous, criminal, immoral, or unhealthy behaviors while using or to be able to use.
- Attitude changes that may reflect more negativity or disregard for others
- Lack of motivation or finances and frequently needing to borrow from others