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Understanding the Different Forms of Heroin

June 2, 2021
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different forms of heroin

The deadliest things seem the most harmless at first glance. Heroin is a little powder that is soft to the touch, like snow. Yet it causes almost 20 percent of drug overdose deaths.

When news articles show pictures of heroin, they present it as a white, flaky substance. But the drug is far more versatile than that.

What are the different forms of heroin? Where are they available, and how do they affect the body? What are drugs that get mixed with heroin?

Answer these questions and you will go a long way toward understanding opioids. Here is your quick guide.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid, which is a kind of drug that reduces pain. Heroin is created from morphine, an opiate substance derived from poppy plants.

In a clinical setting, morphine can help a patient recover from surgery or deal with chronic discomfort. But heroin also crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds to opioid receptors in it. As it binds to these receptors through the body it affects a person’s heart and breathing rates.

Heroin creates a euphoric feeling that encourages the person to use it again and again. As time goes on, these receptors become dependent on supplemental opioid use rather than the body’s natural opioid production. Then the body requires higher doses to feel euphoria, and without it a person may find themselves in great agony.

In strong enough doses, heroin can stop a person’s breathing. This cuts off the flow of oxygen to the brain, damaging it and killing the person.

All types of heroin can elicit these effects. But drug dealers can mix heroin with different substances, creating multiple kinds of heroin.

Heroin has many different street names. “Dope,” “smack,” “junk,” and “snow” are the most common ones. Some people may call it “beast” or “hero.”

White Powder Heroin

White powder heroin is the purest form of the drug. To make heroin, drug dealers collect sap from opium plants. They boil the sap with lime to produce a morphine paste.

They combine the paste with chemicals to convert it to heroin. White powder heroin is morphine paste combined with a few chemicals and prepared in little time.

This creates a highly potent and bitter drug. It can quickly enter the bloodstream, allowing the user to feel high in a few minutes. The user can smoke, inject, or snort the powder.

The heroin resembles flour and baking powder. To trick users, many dealers mix heroin with these substances. Most users do not notice until they inject the mixture into themselves and experience side effects.

Most forms of white powder come from Mexico and Colombia. It is popular in border states and the East Coast, but it can be found anywhere.

Black Tar Heroin

Black tar heroin is more refined than white powder but less so than other varieties. The refining process stops as soon as the morphine paste combines with chemicals.

Black tar is less pure than white powder. But it is a powerful version of heroin that delivers a quick high. Because the refining process is so short, it is less expensive and more available than other drugs.

As the name suggests, it looks like chunks of hardened tar. Users often dissolve the chunks into small pieces and dilute it with water. Then heat the water, then inject the dirty concoction into their veins.

Black tar can come from anywhere since it is so easy to make. Many forms come from Mexico and are widespread across the southern United States.

Brown Powder Heroin

Brown powder heroin can comprise a few different products. It can be an impure version of white powder. It can be a refined version of black tar, combined with fillers like lactose.

Brown powder is often cheap, making it desirable for novice drug users. It often does not dissolve in water, so most users smoke or snort it. This type of heroin is mostly made in Mexico and the United States.

Purple and Blue Heroin

Purple heroin is a mixture of acetaminophen, heroin and a new drug called brorphine (a synthetic opioid with a piperidine benzimidazolone structure).

Purple heroin is an incredibly potent form of the drug. It is extremely addictive and dangerous. Many users inject it into their bloodstream, increasing their risk for cardiac arrest.

Purple heroin has also been found to contain carfentanil — a drug that is 100 times stronger than fentanyl (which is already 50 times more potent than morphine).

Blue heroin is also a mixture of heroin and fentanyl. There are no substantial differences between purple and blue heroin, as they both contain deadly mixes of synthetic opioids and opioid analogs.


A speedball is a mixture of heroin and cocaine. The term does not refer to a separate kind of drug.

Cocaine is a stimulant, speeding up the central nervous system. This can cause the body to use more oxygen, at the same time that heroin is slowing the breathing rate down. The differing effects can induce respiratory failure and death.

A speedball is one of the most dangerous combinations of drugs. Even someone with a high drug tolerance can die from it. People addicted to it should get heroin and cocaine addiction treatment.

The Different Forms of Heroin

There are several different forms of heroin. They all create a euphoric feeling that can diminish pain and cause respiratory failure.

If you suffer from a heroin dependency or another opioid dependency, you should seek help. If you are in the Bay Area or Orange County area, Wavelengths recovery may be the right option for you.

Give us a call and we can get started on your individualized treatment plan today.




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