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What Does Heroin Look Like?

Heroin can vary in appearance. White heroin is the purest type of the drug available, but it’s still often mixed with other substances. White heroin may appear as a pinkish, off-white or beige powder as well, depending on what chemicals are used in its making.
Heroin that has been heated in a spoon and being sucked into a syringe  
Brown heroin is also a powder. Brown heroin is not as refined and is less pure than white heroin. Brown heroin is also typically cheaper than white heroin. Black tar heroin, as the name indicates, is black or dark brown and it looks and feels like tar due to the method of processing. Black tar heroin is typically from Mexico and contains very little pure heroin, but it’s fast and cheap to make. Heroin is a highly addictive, dangerous and often deadly opioid. When someone uses heroin, it binds to opioid receptors in their central nervous system. The result is a flood of neurotransmitters into the brain that causes a euphoric high. Following the euphoria, a person may feel deeply relaxed or drowsy. The effects of heroin stem from the fact that it’s a central nervous system depressant. Along with euphoria and relaxation, heroin slows breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

The Different Ways Heroin Is Used

How people use heroin varies from person to person. Most often, heroin is injected directly into a vein or muscle. This injection method creates the fastest and most powerful high, but it’s also the most dangerous way to use heroin. A pipe can be used to smoke heroin, or it can be smoked in something like a joint similar to marijuana. Heroin can be inhaled, usually through a straw, which is known as “chasing the dragon.” When it’s in powder form, heroin can also be snorted.

What Are Some Street Names for Heroin?

There are many street names for heroin. Some of them include:
  • Chiva
  • Chiba
  • Smack
  • H
  • Tar
  • Dope
  • Junk
  • Brown sugar
  • China white
  • White lady
  • White boy
  • Black pearl
  • Brown crystal
  • Mexican brown
  • Mexican mud
  • Snow
  • Snowball
  • Skunk

Preventing Teen Heroin Use

If you’re a parent, teen drug abuse prevention is probably one of your top priorities. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, around 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year in 2016. The statistic is primarily driven by young people ages 18 to 25. So what can you do to prevent teen drug abuse? Learning more about drug use and abuse, and what to look for in terms of signs and symptoms is important. Knowing the risk factors for drug abuse and addiction can help. For example, a family history of addiction is a risk factor, as are having a history of trauma, issues with impulse control and mental health disorders. If you believe your teen is using heroin or any substance, contact Next Generation Village. By offering individualized programs for the unique needs of teens, treatment can help address their substance abuse disorder.    


NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Heroin.” June 2018. Accessed March 28, 2019.

Buddy T. “Photographs of the Various Types of Heroin.” Verywell Mind, March 25, 2019. Accessed March 28, 2019.

NIH National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is the scope of heroin use in the United States?” June 2018. Accessed March 28, 2019.

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