Heroin is not legal anywhere. Unlike other opioids in its class, heroin isn’t prescribed post-surgery or for chronic pain management. It is an illicitly manufactured opioid, which means it’s made in labs that aren’t regulated with ingredients that are often incredibly harmful. And yet, people continue to buy heroin in droves, risking their health and their lives. At ReVIDA® Recovery, we’ve seen the effects of heroin use firsthand, and we’re on a mission to help people reclaim their lives from it.
Currently, close to 70,000 Tennessee residents are managing an addiction to opioids. But why? Opioids create a fast and false sense of well-being and stress relief. For those with unresolved trauma or mental health conditions, heroin can seem like a magic solution for both physical and emotional pain.
Heroin isn’t just dangerous – it’s also expensive to buy. Additionally, it isn’t always the easiest thing for people to find. This can cause many individuals to “chase the opioid feeling” in unconventional ways, like purchasing the cheapest forms of heroin or even attempting to make it themselves. That’s what we’re here to talk about today.
What Are the Different Types of Liquid Heroin?
The term “liquid heroin” refers to two kinds of substances. One comes from black tar heroin and the other comes from a mixture of cough syrup and soda (also known as “Lean”). In other words, one form of liquid heroin comes from heroin itself, while the other form doesn’t contain heroin at all.
Both forms of liquid heroin produce an opioid-like “high” while being cost-effective for the person using them. Both of these forms are also highly dangerous. Anyone who uses them regularly risks becoming addicted and possibly even overdosing. Let’s go into detail about both types of liquid heroin.
Black Tar Heroin
Black tar is an inexpensive form of heroin because of the number of impurities it contains. The heroin that most people imagine comes in a white, powdered form because it has to go through a rigorous process. Opium is removed from a poppy flower’s pod, refined into morphine, and refined again. Black tar heroin’s process skips a step of refinement and isn’t considered as “pure” as other kinds of heroin. Instead of a white powder, it looks black, thick, and sticky. Make no mistake – while this kind of heroin isn’t considered “pure” like other kinds, it is just as strong.
To make liquid heroin from black tar heroin, people usually just mix it with water so they can inject it. Some may also squirt it up the nose with an eye dropper.
Symptoms and Side Effects of Black Tar Heroin
Black tar heroin use in any form is particularly dangerous because many don’t realize how strong it is. They think because it isn’t as expensive or refined as other kinds of heroin, it isn’t as strong. This can cause them to take more of it, which can lead to overdose. When any form of heroin is purchased, it comes with the danger of being cut or laced with stronger opioids like fentanyl, which can be fatal.
If someone is “high” on black tar heroin, they’ll usually slur their words or seem tired. They may also be silent and stare off into space frequently. Mood swings like euphoria/depression, high levels of anxiety, loss of consciousness, disorientation, and hallucinations are also common when someone is taking this substance.
The side effects of taking this substance regularly include addiction, problems with major organs like the liver, job and relationship loss, brain damage, and more.
“Lean” is the second substance that’s often referred to as “liquid heroin.” This can be made using cough syrup (with codeine and an antihistamine) and a mixing agent like soda. Sometimes people will mix it with candy or sugar, as well.
Lean doesn’t need to be injected. It is meant for drinking, kind of like a cocktail. It’s also easier to get than heroin, especially for teenagers who have access to their parent’s medicine cabinets. Lean is often thought of as safer than heroin, but it causes a myriad of health problems.
Symptoms and Side Effects of Lean Heroin
Lean is particularly dangerous for the cardiovascular system. Lean doesn’t have heroin in it, but it’s still susceptible to dependency issues or addiction. Those who drink Lean are risking coma, confusion, overdose, and even death. It’s also unhealthy for the stomach and esophagus and can cause gastrointestinal issues. Additionally, Lean is often mixed with alcohol, which increases the risk of side effects.
What Does Liquid Heroin Look Like?
The appearance of liquid heroin varies depending on whether it’s black tar or Lean. Black tar looks almost like liquid mud, while Lean can look like any other mixed soda drink. If you’re worried about someone in your home using liquid heroin, you can keep your eye out for the paraphernalia associated with these, such as eye droppers, needles, soda cups, candy wrappers, rubber bands, and spoons. You can also keep an eye out for the signs of heroin addiction in your loved one.
Is There a “More Dangerous” Version of Heroin?
It is a common misconception that some forms of heroin are “better for you” than others. Some people think that because Lean doesn’t contain heroin, it must be safer. Others think that “pure”, white powdered heroin is safer than black tar heroin. All forms of this substance are illegal because they are not safe. No matter the form, heroin is harmful to the body and its major organs, and it comes with a high risk of addiction and dependency.
Getting Treatment for Liquid Heroin at ReVida
At ReVIDA® Recovery, we have seen firsthand how effective evidence-based heroin addiction treatment can be. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been taking heroin or how impossible it feels to stop right now – recovery is always possible. Let’s talk about some of the treatment options we offer here that could be right for you.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
While you’re here for MAT, you’ll be closely monitored by a compassionate and knowledgeable staff. Medications are available that can help in alleviating heroin withdrawal symptoms and guiding you safely into recovery. You’ll also have access to resources that can help you on your journey moving forward, including individual counseling, group counseling, and support groups. In an MAT program, we use medications alongside traditional therapy to guide you away from opioids and into a healthy life of recovery.
You’ll also have the option to move forward with our outpatient treatment program. If a higher level of care is warranted, we will provide referrals for a local inpatient or residential treatment program. Your clinician will go over all of your options to set you up for success.
Suboxone® (Buprenorphine) Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is a safe and evidence-based way to treat OUD. At ReVIDA® Recovery, we support the use of Suboxone® (buprenorphine) because it has been proven to reduce cravings while working to prevent relapse. To receive Suboxone® (buprenorphine) treatment, you will have to be opioid-free for 24 hours.
Outpatient Rehab Services
We believe that both individual and group therapy are critical components in the treatment of OUD – especially if you’re looking for long-term recovery. This is a safe and supportive space where you will learn how to manage your triggers and create healthy coping mechanisms. Our behavioral healthcare team is composed of licensed therapists, certified counselors, care coordinators, and peer recovery specialists who are standing by and ready to help. If we can treat your addiction where it started, at its roots, your chance of recovery is greater than if we were to simply treat your withdrawal symptoms.
At ReVIDA® Recovery, we’re standing by to help you reclaim your life from heroin. Recovery is possible, and you can start your journey to wellness whenever you’re ready. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call us today at 423-631-0432.
FAQs About Liquid Heroin
What is liquid heroin?
Black tar heroin mixed with water, along with a mix of cough syrup, codeine, and soda, are both considered forms of “liquid heroin.”
How is liquid heroin used?
Black tar heroin is often mixed with water and injected or squirted up the nose with an eyedropper. “Lean” heroin is mixed in a cup and consumed like alcohol.
What forms can heroin take?
Heroin often comes in the forms of white powder, brown (sandy-looking) powder, or a black, sticky substance called “black tar.”