Street Names & Slang for Heroin

Street Names & Slang for Heroin

Heroin has had a long history in the United States. Derived from morphine and in the opioid family, heroin is known as one of the world’s strongest pain relievers. Heroin was first synthesized from morphine in Germany during the late 1800s as an attempt to produce a safer alternative to morphine and opium for pain.

These drugs were producing large numbers of addicted users around the world.  Marketed as a safer, “non-addictive” alternative to morphine, heroin was sold legally in the United States until late 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed into effect the Harrison Act, which outlawed the sale of opiates and cocoa products. Heroin is now classified as a Schedule I drug, or rather a drug with no medicinal value and with a high risk of addiction.

Heroin sold on the streets is generally of two varieties: “black tar” heroin originating from Mexico, and white heroin trafficked from Southeast Asia or Colombia.   As with any illegal drug, street names vary widely by location and individual batches being sold.  A few, but not all, of the street names for heroin include:

  • Big H
  • Black Tar
  • Brow
  • Chiva
  • Hell Dust
  • Horse
  • Junk
  • Mud
  • Negra
  • Smak
  • Soft
  • Thunder

In addition, street names can indicate the point of origin, such as “Mexican Mud” or “China White.” Heroin is most commonly used intravenously.  Other known methods of use are through snorting, or inhaling through the nose, and smoking.  While all three methods vary in effectiveness, intravenous use results in the quickest acting and longest lasting “high” for the user.


Rise of Heroin Use

Heroin use has increased significantly from 2010 to 2016.  According to the DEA, while only 8% of law enforcement agencies reported heroin as a significant threat in 2007, nearly 45% of agencies report it as a threat in 2016.  In addition, seizures of heroin have increased 80% during that same time period.  A number of key factors have led to a resurgence in heroin use and heroin-related deaths in the United States.

  • Heroin supply has increased dramatically during the last decade. This is largely due to the increased role Mexican traffickers have exercised over the heroin market.  In 2014, nearly 80% of all heroin seized in the United States originated from Mexico.  In recent years, heroin originating in Mexico has been seized in Midwestern and Northeastern cities.
  • Heroin purity has increased dramatically in the past over the past thirty years. With an average purity of over 40%, heroin today is significantly purer than heroin that was being trafficked into the country in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.  During that same time period, the price of heroin has continued to decrease.
  • Heroin has attracted a broader user base across ethnicities and age groups. There is no longer a “typical” heroin user, but rather a broad base of users that represent a myriad of different populations.
  • Increased numbers of controlled prescription drug users have switched to heroin in recent years. This is believed to be the result of lower prices for heroin vs. prescription medications.
  • New users are less likely to inject heroin, instead opting to snort or inhale it. The decreased stigma against snorting heroin, as opposed to intravenous administration, has also increased its user base, appealing to younger and first-time users.

These factors combined have resulted in a broad increase in heroin use across the United States.  With the recent and increasing trend of heroin “cut” with fentanyl or synthetic morphine, heroin users have been more susceptible to hospitalization and death resulting from overdose.


Methods of Treatment for Heroin Abuse

Heroin addiction is primarily treated through either inpatient heroin treatment programs, outpatient programs, or both.  Upon entering an inpatient program, a patient addicted to heroin lives in a sober living facility for up to 90 days under medical supervision.

Inpatient facilities offer a number of advantages, particularly for heavy or chronic users, or those that have suffered relapses in the past.  They offer a clean break from a lifestyle of addiction, including teaching new skills that empower patients to successfully navigate an ongoing sober life outside of treatment.  Inpatient facilities can help end the cycle of addiction while offering a supportive and safe environment.

Outpatient treatment plans help many patients transition from the sober living environment of an inpatient treatment plan to leading a healthy, sober, and productive life outside of treatment. Outpatient treatment plans typically include counseling assistance, training in life skills, and assistance transitioning to life outside of a sober living facility.

It is important for both heroin users and the family members of those suffering from heroin addiction to consult with qualified medical professionals in order to determine the most appropriate treatment path.  With the correct treatment plan, individuals suffering from heroin addiction have a greater chance of long lasting success on their road to recovery.

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