What Is Heroin Cut With? A Full List Of Cutting Agents

Heroin is an illicit drug that is highly addictive. This drug is considered illegal because it has high abuse potential, no known medical use, and there are serious safety concerns.  It is categorized as an opioid and is created from morphine. It is generally sold by drug dealers as a white or brown powder substance but it can also be found in the form of black tar. The 2016 DEA Intelligence Report indicated that regardless of whether heroin came from Mexico or South America, once powder heroin shipments reach the United States, drug dealers cut the heroin using various adulterants (mixing substances). Drug dealers commonly cut heroin with sucrose (sugar), starch, baking soda, laundry detergent, lidocaine, procaine, caffeine, rat poison, powdered milk, or quinine. Cutting heroin with other substances is often done during packaging to increase their profitability through bulking up their supplies. It is also done to increase product quantity, enhance the desirable effects of the drug, or even mimic other drugs characteristics (like fentanyl for Heroin). People who use heroin need to be mindful of the various other substances added to heroin because they can cause harmful side effects unrelated to the heroin itself.

Heroin Cut With Quinine

A recent study that took place in Baltimore, Maryland found that from 2009-2010 quinine was the second most common adulterant (additive) found in heroin.  Quinine is used to cut drugs like heroin, comes from the cinchona tree in Peru and Bolivia. Quinine is a commonly used cutting agent in heroin because of its bitter taste that is similar to heroin. This makes people who use heroin less likely to notice that something has been added to their heroin. Quinine is also known to mimic the “rush” of heroin.

Heroin Cut With Lactose

Lactose (powdered milk) was identified in the 2016 DEA Intelligence Report as the most common diluent for heroin that originated from Mexico. Heroin coming from Mexico tends to be black tar. Black tar heroin may be sticky and appear similar to the tar used in roofing. Due to black tar heroin having a gummy consistency additional steps are needed to transform the heroin into a powder that can be inhaled. Some people may be wondering, what is black tar cut with? Lactose, is one diluent that can be added to black tar heroin in order to ground it into a brown powder that is more usable. A recent study found that lactose is a common additive found in heroin in San Antonio and Houston, Texas. This is because the heroin coming from Mexico is black tar and needs an additive like lactose to make it into brown powdered heroin that can be inhaled.

Heroin Cut With Caffeine

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, caffeine is a common agent found in heroin because it causes heroin to vaporize at a lower temperature. Heroin vaporizing at a lower rate enables people who use the drug to get their “rush” quicker. This may be viewed as a potential benefit by people who smoke or inhale the substance. Also, heroin is a depressant and caffeine is a stimulant. A stimulant increases a person’s mental response making them feel like they have more energy and are more alert. On the other hand, a depressant reduces a person’s mental and physical functions leading to feelings of relaxation. When an individual decides to mix depressants and stimulants it confuses the body and is extremely dangerous.

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Other Drugs That Are Cut Similarly

Other drugs that are cut similar to heroin are cocaine and fentanyl. Cocaine can also be cut with a variety of substances like sugar. Just like heroin, cocaine is cut by drug dealers in order to increase the amount of product resulting in an increase in profits for dealers. Fentanyl can also be cut with other substances like heroin, sugar, and baking powder.

Is Heroin Always Cut With Other Substances?

Heroin is not always cut with other substances. When heroin is in its purest form it is a white powder. However, finding pure heroin is getting harder and harder in the United States. This is because drug dealers commonly will cut heroin with substances to dilute the drug, add weight, complement its effects, or address a certain side effect, and stretch the substance. The variation of heroin purity has been found to be a predictor of deadly overdoses.

What Is The Difference Between Lacing And Cutting?

Most of the time when people refer to adding things to drugs they mention either “lacing” or “cutting” the substance. Cutting the drug means that something is being added to it. When cutting the drug is mentioned it usually implies that the drug is being diluted or the strengths of the effects of the drug are weakened. Lacing, on the contrary, is typically used when implying the substance being added to the drug is increasing the drug’s potency or adding more euphoric sensations. For example, dealers lace heroin and cocaine with fentanyl (a drug that is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin) to make those substances more powerful and therefore more desirable.

How To Treat A Heroin Addiction

There are a wide variety of treatments available for someone who is addicted to heroin. Treatments that have been found to be effective in helping someone overcome heroin use are both behavioral therapies and medications. Both behavioral therapies and medications have been found to restore a person’s normal brain function and behavior. This results in a lower risk for blood-borne infections like HIV, HBV, and HCV. These treatment options can also reduce an individual’s exposure to criminal activity or behaviors as they are advancing through a reformative program to help alter their need for a fix. This enables the recovered individual to become a productive member of society again through obtaining and keeping employment as well as having a higher quality of life.



Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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