Heroin Identification

heroin identification hope for tomorrow

Have you recently found heroin in the possession of someone you love? Are you sure it’s heroin? How can you tell?

Identifying heroin is important when it comes to keeping your loved ones safe. 148 West Virginians lost their lives due to an overdose involving heroin in 2020. 1,153 died the same year due to a fentanyl overdose. That disparity is significant, and being able to determine the difference between heroin and another substance like fentanyl can save a life. At Hope for Tomorrow, we have the answers you need about heroin identification. 

How to Tell the Difference Between Heroin and Other Opioids

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to tell the difference. Heroin typically comes in the form of a white powder, but so do many other illicit substances, including fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine. While the texture of the latter is different, in their purest forms, fentanyl and heroin seem the same.

Both can come in pill form, though fentanyl is more common in pills than heroin. Both can be dissolved in water, injected, smoked, and snorted. People who take heroin and fentanyl exhibit the same symptoms, though fentanyl is more likely to cause overdose. The only way to tell the difference between fentanyl and heroin is by using a fentanyl test strip.

As of January 2024, fentanyl test strips are legal in West Virginia and no longer considered drug paraphernalia. 

What Colors Does Heroin Come In?

Heroin comes in two forms: powdered heroin and black tar heroin.

Powdered heroin is most commonly white, but can also be brownish. Black tar heroin, as its name would suggest, is black or dark brown. This is because of the impurities left behind in it that aren’t in powdered heroin. It also comes in a form that looks like coal or clay instead of powder.

What Does Heroin Packaging Look Like?

Heroin packaging varies, but powdered heroin is most commonly stored in aluminum foil, while black tar heroin is stored in plastic balloons. People use Ziploc bags or pill capsules to store heroin, too. Sometimes, bags of heroin are stamped with the source of the substance, whether it’s the name of a dealer or drug trafficker.

what colors does heroin come in

Street Names and Slang for Heroin

Some street names for heroin are:

  • Chiva
  • Black
  • Smack
  • Gear
  • Hammer
  • The dragon
  • Horse
  • Junk
  • Point
  • Dope
  • White dynamite
  • Homebake
  • H

This list isn’t comprehensive, and street names of drugs can change over time. If you’re worried someone you love is involved with heroin, it’s a good idea to be aware of emojis frequently used in discussions of illicit substances too.

Why Is Identifying Heroin Important?

Dealers are rarely honest about exactly what is in their supply. It’s common for heroin to be “cut”, or combined, with other substances, both illicit and otherwise. Some common cutting agents are baking soda, sugar, starch, and fentanyl.

Fentanyl is an incredibly powerful and dangerous opioid, and using fentanyl test strips to tell the difference between fentanyl and heroin is vital to reduce the likelihood of harm for someone using substances.

It’s also important to be on the lookout for evidence of heroin if you’re worried a loved one may be taking it. Being aware of the packaging and appearance may help you find answers, and allow you to prepare to talk to your loved one about their heroin use.

why is identifying heroin important

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction in West Virginia

Maybe reading this blog confirmed something you were already afraid of: your loved one is involved with heroin. Identifying heroin isn’t easy, especially when comparing it to other substances. It’s stressful, and it can be dangerous if you’re wrong. 

There’s a safe way out that will allow you to leave all of that fear behind. Heroin addiction treatment is an option for anyone taking heroin. Treatment isn’t easy either, but it’s worth it and is the first step toward a happy, substance-free life.

At Hope for Tomorrow, we believe everyone deserves recovery and a fulfilling life. That’s why we accept everyone – from pregnant women to individuals with medical conditions, and anyone in between. No matter who you are, we’d love to meet you and address all the concerns you have regarding substance use. We’ll work through any mental health conditions involved, too. Give us a call at 877-679-8162 for more on what we can do for you.

Treatment today for a brighter tomorrow.


What should you do if you find heroin in a loved one’s house or car?

The best thing to do is plan a course of action to talk to your loved one about it as soon as possible. Don’t panic, have empathy, and encourage them to walk away from heroin. It might be appropriate to look into treatment options, whether that be a program for a heroin use disorder or therapy to identify and work through what led to the involvement with heroin.