Pure heroin looks like a fine, white powder, but is frequently found in various shades of gray, beige, pink, brown, and even black. The coloring is due to the drug being cut with additives, such as caffeine, sugar, powdered milk, stark, quinine and other drugs.
Some heroin tends to be courser, and black tar heroin, as the name suggests, is a tar-like, sticky substance that ranges from dark brown to black. It is the least pure of all forms of heroin due to the crude way in which it’s processed. Heroin is a highly addictive, painkilling narcotic made from morphine.
Methods of Use
Injecting heroin is a very popular form of use because it is delivered more rapidly and intensely to the brain, resulting in a more powerful high. In addition to the harmful effects of the heroin itself, intravenous drug use can also result in serious skin infections, abscesses, collapsed veins, and in extreme cases, amputation.
Smoking heroin involves burning the drug and inhaling smoke into the lungs, using through a pipe. Smoking heroin is also referred to as “chasing the dragon.” The high that results from smoking heroin is not as intense as when injected, but may be popular among those who choose to avoid needles and the stigma associated with intravenous drug use.
Like injecting, however, smoking heroin also has dangers associated with the specific method of use. For example, those who smoke heroin face a higher risk of bronchitis and pneumonia, as well as widespread damage to other organs such as the heart, liver, and brain.
Snorting heroin involves sniffing the substance into the nostrils. Not unlike cocaine use, snorting heroin can result in nasal infections and irreversible damage to the septum and surrounding tissue.
How Heroin Works and Why is It Addictive ?
Using heroin results in a euphoric high that can last up to a half hour. When heroin reaches the brain, it attaches to receptors that release a massive surge of dopamine, a chemical associated with feelings of well-being and relaxation.
After multiple uses, heroin becomes addictive due to the onset of tolerance and dependency. Tolerance occurs as the brain requires more and more of the drug to achieve the desired euphoria and other effects. In a nutshell, increased exposure = reduced response.
When tolerance occurs, users are forced to use increasing amounts, which also raises the risk of overdose. Some users switch to more powerful opioids such as fentanyl or use other drugs in conjunction with heroin to enhance or prolong a high.
Dependency occurs when the brain becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence and can’t function properly without it. When the user tries to quit or cut back, the body responds with unpleasant mental and physical withdrawal effects.
These effects are one reason why people continue to use the drug – to avoid withdrawals and sate the cravings associated with it.
Street Names for Heroin
Heroin is known on the street by many different names, sometimes depending on its color or purity.
Slang names for heroin include, but are not limited to the following:
- Smack, Dope, Junk, Dragon
- Skunk, Horse (Mexican Horse), Chiva (Chiba), Boy, Hero, Birdie Powder, Snow (Snowball)
- White (China White), White Stuff, White Girl (White Boy), White Nurse (White Lady), White Horse
- Tar (Black Tar), Black Stuff, Black Pearl, Black Eagle, Negra
- Brown (Brown Crystal), Brown Sugar (Brown Tape), Brown Sugar (Brown Crystal), Mexican Brown (Mud)
- Witch Hazel, Skag, Shot, H (Big H), Scag (Scat), Number 2 (Number 3,4,8), Hell Dust, Thunder
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is a condition best treated by mental health and medical providers in a clinical setting. Our team includes addiction specialists and other healthcare personnel trained to enact customized programs that treat the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal.
Treatment begins in our detox center, where patients are monitored around-the-clock. During this time, medication-assisted therapy can be administered to mitigate many of the worst symptoms of withdrawal.
After detox, patients are encouraged to enter one of our long-term treatment programs, ideally for at least 30 days. We offer both inpatient (residential stay) treatment as well as intensive outpatient treatment.
Both formats include behavioral therapy, individual and group therapy, family counseling, holistic practices such as meditation, and participation in 12-step programs.
After intensive treatment has been completed, support groups are helpful for maintaining long-term abstinence, as are ongoing treatments such as psychiatric services and counseling.
Also, after discharge from treatment, clients can still participate in our aftercare program and alumni activities