Author: Gary Jackson

The Textures of Heroin: User Perspectives on Black Tar and Powder Heroin in Two US Cities PMC

‘Open coding’ was carried out to identify concepts and categories and systematically apply them throughout the transcripts (Strauss and Corbin 1990). The study protocol was approved by UCSF and University of Pennsylvania Institutional Review Boards and the data are protected by two Federal Certificates of Confidentiality issued by NIH/NIDA. Details of the methods have been reported previously (Rosenblum et al. 2013, Bourgois and Schonberg 2009, Mars 2014).

  • Its dark color is due to the crude processing method that leaves behind impurities.
  • Quality of the actual “high” rarely appeared to be of interest among most of these heroin injectors, as it is, for instance, among marijuana aficionados.
  • Spring Hill Recovery Center is a behavioral health center with many addiction treatment options.

Multiple studies show that people who inject the drug are more likely to be older men who have extensive histories of drug use and test positive for viruses such as HIV or hepatitis. Those who inject or shoot black tar heroin generally started using heroin earlier than those who inhale or smoke the drug, and they also have higher levels of dependency. Spring Hill Recovery Center provides residential treatment for addiction and co-occurring mental health issues. However, some conditions may require treatment beyond our capabilities, and we reserve the right to medically discharge a patient for a higher level of mental health care. For example, because black tar heroin contains impurities, those impurities can cause toxicity or infection.

Heroin Overdose

While some of our findings show contrasting effects of the two main heroin source-types, others transcended these divisions, being common to heroin injectors studied in both cities. In their wider observations, the ethnographers witnessed no devastating vein loss among heroin injectors in Philadelphia except among those who also injected cocaine powder. No one interviewed there intentionally ‘skin popped’ (injecting into subcutaneous tissue rather than a vein) or ‘muscled’ (injecting into muscle) cocaine because, users reported, it could cause abscesses, was painful and did not produce the initial rush of pleasure. For the qualitative interviews, the ethnographic work enabled a targeted sampling strategy, with purposive recruitment augmented by the snowball convenience sampling techniques generally used to access hidden populations.

  • This is dangerous because as you take higher and higher doses, your risk of experiencing an overdose increases.
  • Most thought cocaine more destructive to their veins than BTH but some considered BTH equally damaging and several attributed the loss of many usable veins to black tar alone.
  • The ethnographic insertion of the same anthropological team in both cities provided privileged access to observational and interview data in the natural environment of street-based users and allowed comparative observations.
  • In some parts of the United States, especially the lower states,[vague] black tar may be the only form of heroin that is available.
  • Also called flesh-eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis is a life-threatening bacterial infection that kills tissue beneath the skin at drug injection sites.

If you or a loved one may have an addiction to heroin, don’t wait to contact us. After putting the heroin on a piece of foil, it’s heated using a lighter (foil and lighters are both common heroin paraphernalia). Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know experiences these symptoms. Symptoms include fever, severe pain, and red, warm, swelling that spreads rapidly. Many people smoke the drug by placing it on aluminum foil, heating it with a lighter or other heat source, and inhaling the resulting smoke with a straw. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses.