Different Types Of Heroin

Heroin is an illicit and highly addictive drug that comes in a variety of forms. The most common types of heroin include powder form, black tar heroin, and synthetic heroin.

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Heroin is a type of opioid drug that is highly addictive and illegal to possess. It is derived from morphine in the opium poppy plant, often originating in South America or Mexico.

People use heroin in one of three formulations including powder form, solid form, or liquid form. It is also common for heroin to be mixed or cut with other drugs or substances to increase volume or potency.

Heroin By Formulation

Once the seed pods of the opium plant are harvested, the resulting substance can be refined to produce various forms of heroin.

While the appearance may differ, the overall physical and psychological effects will remain relatively constant.

Side effects of heroin use include:

  • a euphoric feeling that lasts between four to six hours
  • intense itching
  • drowsiness
  • warm, flushed skin
  • dry mouth
  • irritability and mood swings

Below you will find more information on the many formulations of heroin, how they’re used, and how to differentiate the different forms.

Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin is the least refined version of the drug. It may be black or dark brown in color and have a sticky, tar-like consistency or be rock hard.

Read more about black tar heroin.

How Is Black Tar Heroin Made?

This form of heroin is the cheapest to make, as the refinement process is not as thorough as the powdered formulations of the drug.

Learn more about how black tar heroin is made.

How To Use Black Tar Heroin

There are several ways people can use black tar heroin including dissolving in a spoon for intravenous injection, or heating it up on a sheet of aluminum foil and inhaling the vapors. This is also known as “chasing the dragon”.

Read about what happens when you smoke black tar heroin.

Powder Heroin

Powder heroin is a highly refined substance that has fine, granular quality. The powder form can come in different colors depending on the level of refinement.

Learn more about white and brown powder heroin.

White Powder Heroin

The purest version of heroin is a shiny white powder that has a bitter taste. Cutting agents used with white powder heroin include baking soda, corn starch, powdered milk, and laundry detergent.

Brown Powder Heroin

If heroin has a sandy or brownish color, it may have been refined from black tar heroin. If the color appears dull in powder heroin, it may indicate the heavy use of cutting agents or additives.

Black Tar Vs. Powder Heroin

While black tar heroin is commonly seen as “less pure” than powdered variations of the drug, both formulations have a strong and equally addictive effect on the person using them.

Powdered heroin is typically only snorted, but it can also be liquified and injected. Black tar heroin can’t be snorted but can be injected intravenously or smoked in a glass pipe.

Synthetic Heroin

Synthetic heroin can come in the form of prescription opioids that were created in a lab, such as fentanyl. Heroin may be mixed with drugs such as fentanyl to create a more intense high.

Fentanyl is a particularly dangerous cutting agent in heroin due to its powerful effects. When fentanyl is present in heroin, the risk of opioid overdose and overdose death increases substantially.

Learn more about the dangers of synthetic heroin abuse.

Other Types Of Heroin

There are several different types of heroin that have street names specific to their formulation.

Cheese Heroin

“Cheese heroin” is black tar heroin that is mixed with Tylenol PM pills (acetaminophen). Cheese heroin often has the appearance of a tan or yellowish powder.

Learn more about cheese heroin.

Blue Heroin

Blue heroin is a type of powder heroin that has a blue tint. This substance is characterized by the presence of both fentanyl and cocaine.

Read about the dangers of blue heroin use.

Hillbilly Heroin

This type of heroin refers to heroin mixed with prescription opiates such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin), codeine, and other substances. The term “hillbilly heroin” references the prevalence of opioid abuse in rural America.

Learn more about hillbilly heroin.

China White Heroin

This type of heroin is a white, powder form that is laced with the synthetic opioid fentanyl. Some people use the term “China white” to describe cocaine or generic powdered heroin.

Learn more about China white heroin.

Liquid Heroin

Liquid heroin may refer to heroin mixed with other types of drugs, or a liquid form of black tar heroin that can be injected intravenously with a syringe.

Find out more about liquid heroin.

Pure Heroin

“Pure” is a highly refined type of heroin that looks like shiny white powder. The purity is high due to the absence of cutting agents, chemicals, and other additives.

Skunk Heroin

Skunk heroin is typically characterized by black tar heroin that is sprayed with cannabis. “Skunk” refers to the distinctive marijuana smell.

Pink Heroin

Pink heroin or “pinky” is heroin mixed with a range of synthetic opioids. The heroin has a light pink or white appearance in powder form.

Read more about pink heroin.

Mexican Black Tar Heroin

This type of black tar heroin is produced in Mexico and smuggled into the United States. Mexican black tar heroin is typically only available in the southern and western regions of the U.S.

Treatment Programs For Heroin Drug Use

Attempting to stop taking heroin after prolonged abuse can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. A drug rehab center will offer a range of services that can help people in need get on a path to recovery.

Treatment options include:

An evidence-based rehab program can provide safe and effective treatment for withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin addiction.

Find Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Finding reputable treatment for heroin addiction can be stressful, but help is available. Call our helpline at Bedrock Recovery Center for more information about our inpatient treatment program.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Heroin DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH) — Heroin in brown, black and white: Structural factors and medical consequences in the US heroin market https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704563/
  3. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Heroin https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/heroin

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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