Heroin is a highly potent synthetic opioid manufactured from morphine, which comes from the seeds of the opium poppy plant.
The flowering plant Papaver Somniferum, also known as the poppy plant, produces opium, was cultivated in Southwest Asia, and is used to make numerous analgesics. To make heroin, manufacturers must first convert it to morphine.
The seed pod is scraped and the residue dried, then sold worldwide. This initial batch of morphine is processed and then turned into heroin, a powerful street narcotic.
Heroin can come in a variety of forms including white powder or as a sticky residue called “black tar heroin.”
The purity of heroin varies, and on the street, it is rarely in its purest form.
Therefore, because of the impurities, cutting agents, and chemicals used to process heroin, it could come in assorted colors.
Powdered heroin can come in an assortment of colors. Sometimes the structure looks crystalline-like methamphetamine, and other times it is powdery like cocaine.
Gray or brown heroin is sometimes more potent than white or tan.
However, the light-colored heroin can may be cut with fentanyl to increase its potency. So, because it appears light in color, it is not as good a judge of strength as some people assume.
One of the reasons why so many individuals overdose on heroin is that, unlike prescriptions, there is no dose control.
There is no way to determine if the heroin you are using now is more potent than the heroin you used yesterday. The people selling it are not always willing to tell you what is in it if they even know.
Let us look at several ways to tell the difference between heroin and other opioids, including the differences in color and packaging. You will be able to know if someone you care about is using heroin if you know what it looks like.
Identifying Heroin from Other Types of Opioids
Other opioids come in pill form, but heroin may also come in powder form. Opioid medicines will have the same brain and physical effects as heroin.
Heroin easily crosses the blood-brain barrier causing the brain to release substantial amounts of dopamine. The surge of euphoria caused by the dopamine entering the system is a common side effect of heroin and other opioid medicines. Opioids also reduce mental and physical pain and provide the user with a sense of well-being.
According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, there are around 70,000 Tennesseans with an opioid use disorder. Opioids are a growing epidemic in the state, as well as in other parts of the country. We know that heroin is found in the form of a powder or residue more often than in a pill form. So next, we will look at the diverse colors of heroin.
What Are the Different Colors of Heroin?
Heroin is usually a white, brown, tan, and sometimes gray powder.
White heroin is sometimes the purest form of heroin and mostly has a mixing agent that can be a little difficult to identify.
The color could have a creamy off-white, almost pink hue to it. Tan heroin or beige heroin could also be high in potency.
The color does not equate to potency, though.
Still, the shade is a little darker because of some of the chemicals used in the manufacturing process.
Brown heroin is usually not as potent as the white.
Color and purity, however, may not always be valid identifiers. These are reasons why overdose is so common with heroin use.
Black tar heroin is a black or deep brown sticky residue substance. The crude way that it is processed is what gives it the texture.
Black tar is usually cheaper and quicker to manufacture than powdered heroin.
What Are Some Different Packaging for Heroin?
Packaging usually differs by type.
For example, powdered heroin will come in folded-up pieces of paper, receipts, aluminum foil, lottery tickets, or any other material that the powder does not usually stick to.
Plastic bags are also common for powder, especially in larger quantities.
Stamps are smaller amounts of powdered heroin commonly folded into paper and often contain one or two doses.
Bundles and balloons are also common names for heroin packaging.
Usually, balloons are twisted up with black tar heroin in them.
The balloons are commonly handled by “mules,” transported across continents, and they can even be ingested if necessary. They can also be hidden in concealable clothing, such as a baseball cap.
What Are Some of the Heroin Slang Terms and Other Names for It?
Heroin goes by many different street names and slang. In addition, some slang will be different for various regions or cities.
Some common slang words for heroin include:
- Dog food
- White china
- Brown sugar
- White junk
This list is by no means exhaustive. Sometimes the name is frequently referred to by the place from which it originated, the gang that distributes it, the effects or potency, and the color.
Why is it so important to learn how to identify the drug?
Danger: Why Does the Identification of Heroin Matter?
One of the most important reasons to learn how to recognize a drug is to prevent or reverse an overdose.
In Tennessee, for example, opioid-related overdose deaths numbered 1,307 deaths in 2018, while heroin accounted for 369 deaths. Opioid overdoses are a problem in our state, and the numbers are rising.
Knowing the indications, symptoms, and appearance of heroin and other opioids is more critical than ever before in the hopes of intervening fast enough to save a life.
Some signs of a heroin overdose include the following:
- Blue lips and nails
- Foam at the mouth
- Flushed skin
- Slow heart rate
- The body is stiff or cold.
- Clammy skin
- Slowed or stopped breathing
- Cannot talk
- Repeated gurgling or snoring
If you ever witness someone that may be overdosing, you must call 911 immediately.
Medical professionals will have Narcan® or Naloxone®, an antidote to heroin or any opioid overdose. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids on the receptors in the brain.
However, the individual will wake up with severe withdrawal symptoms and feel nauseous, but that is entirely common after Naloxone has brought someone out of an overdose situation.
Suppose you are concerned about a loved one’s heroin use disorder. In that case, you can obtain a Naloxone® kit at any CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid pharmacy in Tennessee without a prescription.
Heroin use disorder does not have to end in an overdose.
There are treatment options available now.
Are You Ready to Get Treatment for Heroin Use Disorder?
Are you ready to reclaim your life back from the grip of heroin use disorder?
ReVIDA Recovery® offers treatment for heroin addiction that we will tailor to fit your unique needs.
We offer a comprehensive and proven treatment method to ensure that you have a successful recovery. Our medically assisted treatment (MAT) program is designed to assist you every step of the way. Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) is a combination of buprenorphine and Naloxone used to treat heroin use disorder. Buprenorphine (Suboxone®) and our evidence-based behavior therapy programs can help you get back on track. The medication will help ward off cravings and ease some heroin withdrawal symptoms to focus on what matters most: your recovery.
If you or a loved one is ready to make a change, call (423) 631-0432 today and let ReVIDA Recovery® be the step forward you need for a successful recovery.
FAQs About the Identification of Heroin
Does heroin show up in a hair test?
Hair follicle testing has recently become a popular drug testing method because it can go back farther than urine or saliva testing. Hair tests can go back up to 90 days. The hair is taken from the person’s head and tested. Heroin would show up as an opioid if consumed in the past 90 days before the test is administered.
Is heroin controlled or illegal?
The Controlled Substances Act classifies heroin as a Schedule 1 substance. Heroin is also illegal.
How do you identify a drug?
If the drug is a pill, there are online identifier applications where you can enter the medication’s imprint, numbers, color, and shape. They are designed to help you figure out which pill you have found.
Although identifying powder is more complicated, there are fentanyl testing strips that you may use to screen for the presence of fentanyl.