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What is Heroin Cut With?

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Drug dealers use other substances like powdered milk, sugar, starch, and quinine to increase the profitability and decrease the potency of the drug they are selling. Sometimes drug dealers will also lace the drug with other mood-altering substances. Heroin typically isn’t pure when purchased on the street and can sometimes be 50 percent of the actual drug. Drug dependence is highly likely after using heroin, which can be extremely dangerous, and oftentimes an overdose will lead to death.

Most people don’t realize that when they score a bag of heroin, they’re also getting a mystery substance along with it. Heroin is generally cut with one of an assortment of other substances to lower potency and increase profitability. As if the idea of snorting, injecting, or smoking heroin wasn’t bad enough, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re getting more than you bargained for.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive opiate second-hand from morphine; which is gathered from the seed pod of the Asian opium plant. Heroin is considered one of the more addictive drugs known to humankind. Its also in the opiate category—the DEA labeled heroin a schedule II drug because of its “ high potential for use which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Not only is it addictive, but it’s also deadly—and it’s getting worse. “From 2014 to 2015, heroin overdose death rates increased by 20.6 percent, with nearly 13,000 people dying in 2015” (Center For Disease Control and Prevention). Street heroin is rarely pure, and you might be surprised by some of the other substances cut into the drug to spread it out.

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What Substances Can Heroin Be Cut With?

“Highly pure heroin can be snorted or smoked and maybe more appealing to new users because it eliminates the stigma associated with injection drug use” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Heroin, in it’s purest form (a white powdery substance) is a lot stronger than it used to be, but nonetheless, the new users often prefer the high—although the majority of the stuff you find on the street has about a 50 percent purity and has been cut with another substance, which can include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Sucrose
  • Lactose
  • Mannitol
  • Caffeine
  • Quinone
  • Flour
  • Chalk
  • Talcum Powder
  • Starch
  • Nutmeg
  • Ajax
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Cadmium
  • Copper
  • Calcium
  • Ethanol

Heroin Cut With Sucrose

Not only has the drug heroin been nicknamed “brown sugar” but it can also be cut with forms sucrose such as brown sugar. So black tar heroin can be cut with brown sugar, which gives the drug a sweet smell, and sticky texture. Depending on the region, sucrose is reported to have been found in anywhere from 15 to 65 percent (and 21 percent in the U.S.A.) of collected samples.

Heroin Cut With Lactose

It’s true, heroin is known to be cut with lactose as well (better known as powdered milk). Since heroin is white in it’s purest form, perhaps cutting it with lactose gives the buyer and user the impression that the drug is better. Not only is it white, but lactose is also fairly inexpensive—and will allow for a higher profit margin than some of its substitutes. In a study by the Public Health Institute, lactose was found in up to 33 percent (but only 17 percent in the United States) of heroin samples collected.

Heroin Cut With Mannitol

Mannitol is a type of sugar that’s typically used in medicine—also a diuretic that can be used in a lung analysis when testing for asthma. Mannitol is a naturally occurring sugar derived from corn starch. It is white in color and its use for cutting with heroin may be popular because of its color and also its powdery texture. The sugary substitute was seldom found in different regions and even then, Mannitol could be discovered in about 38 percent of heroin samples.

Heroin Cut With Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant and heroin is a depressant—both drugs are addictive and though caffeine is one of the original substances used for cutting, it’s still used by both heroin and cocaine dealers. Though only found in about 7 percent of samples; perhaps caffeine isn’t as popular as the widely used quinine.

Heroin Cut With Quinine

Quinine is a natural substance used in tonic water, and also medicine. It can be used to treat malaria and other ailments (leg cramps). In its powder form, quinine bark is a brownish substance and can also be used to make homemade tonic water. Quinine is the most popular cutting agent used in the United States and was found in 68 percent of the samples collected from Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Buffalo.

In Some Places—Heroin Is Also Cut With Minerals

In certain regions of Spain, 100 percent of heroin was found cut with minerals like iron and zinc. A large number of samples were also found with calcium, manganese, copper, and cadmium. Andalucia, Spain was one of the only places where the Public Health Institute found samples of heroin cut with minerals. Interestingly enough, the drug wasn’t cut with anything else (other than the listed minerals) in that particular region.

Is Heroin Always Cut With Other Substances?

Heroin is cut to increase the profitability of the drug and decrease the potency, the aim of the drug dealers is to make a profit on the drug—so much like cocaine, heroin is often cut to make more money. Though it isn’t always sold in a diluted state, in fact, since “opium is not cultivated in Illinois nor is heroin produced. Heroin producers in Mexico are changing their product to meet the demand for higher purity heroin that has developed in Chicago’s heroin market. A growing category of young, white, suburban heroin users in the Chicago area prefers higher purity white heroin over Mexican brown powdered or black tar heroin” (National Drug Intelligence Center).

Furthermore “…there is a public perception that illicit drugs, including heroin, are routinely ‘cut’ with other substances at each stage of distribution in which they pass. However, analysis of samples of heroin seized at importation and of street samples in the UK has shown that the differences in purity are not as large as often speculated” (Public Health Institute).

What Is The Difference Between Lacing And Cutting?

Drugs can either be “laced” or “cut” with other substances—usually to be laced means a drug mixed with another drug to imitate the original high of the original drug or to introduce a new feeling of euphoria. Cutting a drug, though it means that the drug is mixed with something else, generally just implies that the purity of the drug (heroin) has been weakened. Some of the other drugs or stimulants that heroin can be laced with are:

  • Carfentanil
  • Tranquilizer
  • Arsenic
  • Cocaine
  • Angel Dust
  • Molly
  • Morphine

How Much Does Pure Heroin Cost?

The most common form of heroin coming into the United States is black tar heroin, and purity usually varies between 50 and 80 percent. “In 1999, a kilogram of 79 percent pure black tar heroin sold for $40,000 to $75,000 in Imperial County. (And) A kilogram of 50 to 65 percent pure black tar heroin sold for $80,000 to $90,000 in San Diego County” (National Intelligence Center).

The price of heroin is variable based on where the drug is purchased, and from the same source: The price of heroin shifted just one year later—in “March 2000, at $14,000 per pound; this equates to $30,800 per kilogram.”

How To Treat A Heroin Addiction

Heroin addictions can be one of the more difficult substance use disorders to treat, and frequently detoxification, medication-assisted therapy will be necessary to get a person out of the rut. Recovery from a heroin addiction usually requires a full desire to stop, and can also require inpatient heroin addiction treatment and various therapies along with a fully supportive social environment.

Finding Treatment That’s Right For You

Heroin addiction is often fatal and can lead a person to further crimes, loneliness and depression, homelessness, severe withdrawals, and other undesirable circumstances. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired and would like to find help. Contact us and one of our trained professionals will help you find the treatment that you deserve. You can put a heroin addiction behind you, and we can help get you there.