Heroin Addiction 101: How To Spot The Drug

Heroin use has been prevalently recorded since the first civil war here in America back in the 1860s. Opioids were heavily used as a pain reliever to treat those injured in the war. The resulting opioid addiction led to increased use that hasn’t entirely disappeared over the years. 

Heroin use is seeing a comeback in the United States for a variety of reasons. It is a relatively cost-effective form of pain relief for those who can’t afford it and has left many people both physically and psychologically addicted to the drug. Heroin takes on several forms, so it is vital to be aware of the signs of abuse. You may be wondering what does heroin smell like or look like. 


Heroin has four primary forms: white, brown, black tar, and liquid. White heroin is often a powder and is often thought to be the most pure; you can’t guarantee the purity of an illicit substance based on color alone. 

Brown heroin is sometimes referred to as “brown sugar” and is not as refined as the white powder. Black tar heroin is cheaper, as it is sticky and dense with a lot of impurities in it. Liquid heroin is black tar heroin that has been dissolved in warm water for ease of transport and use later. In questioning what does heroin smell like, the answer would depend on the form of the drug.

Method Of Use

Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted. Injecting heroin can be directly into a vein or a large muscle. Intravenous applications are almost instant, while muscle injections take slightly longer to process, resulting in a longer high. Black tar heroin can be heated up, and the user can smoke the resulting vapors. Snorting heroin requires a more pure form, such as white heroin; this is more expensive than most, leaving most addicts opting to inject their pure heroin. 

Swallowing heroin is less effective in getting high because the stomach must first convert the heroin into morphine to be picked up by the bloodstream. Less commonly, suppository applications are also an option. 

Drug Dependence 

Heroin dependence can be both physical and psychological. The pain relief achieved from the opioid properties can diminish over time as the body builds up a tolerance to the drug. In the same way, psychological dependence can occur when the brain is no longer able to produce the same levels of euphoria created when using heroin. This psychological dependence can send users into spiraling depression and anxiety when the effects of the drug wear off. 

Be Aware

Heroin comes in many forms and is used in multiple ways. There is no singular way to detect heroin use because of this. Look for signs such as track marks from injections, poor hygiene due to apathy between drug uses, and unstable behavior such as chronic tardiness or canceling plans. What does heroin smell like? If someone you know comes back from their smoke break smelling like vinegar or ammonia, there is a chance they were smoking something other than cigarettes.