Heroin Cutting Agents | Banyan Treatment Center

Heroin Cutting Agents

heroin cutting agents

Heroin is a powerful and addictive type of opioid that’s derived from morphine.

It’s listed as a Schedule I substance, meaning it has no medical use and is only available through the illicit drug market. Because heroin is an illegal drug that’s commonly sold on the streets, many users are unaware of the cutting agents in heroin. These additives are often used in the manufacturing of heroin to produce more quantities and allow dealers to gain more profit for fewer products. As an addiction treatment center in Palm Springs, we know that the dangers of heroin abuse are amplified by the harmful ingredients used for cutting heroin.


How Pure Is Heroin?

Heroin that’s sold on the streets is very rarely ever pure. Heroin can come in the form of a white powder, clear solution, or black tar-like gooey substance. Cutting heroin is easy because there are cutting agents that match it in appearance. According to Johns Hopkins University, heroin that’s sold on the streets can vary between 3 to 99 percent in purity.

Regardless of its purity, heroin is a highly dangerous drug. Abusing heroin for even a short period can result in physical and psychological dependence, making it nearly impossible for an individual to quit without professional treatment. At Banyan Treatment Centers Palm Springs, we offer a residential detox that offers 24-hour care and medical assistance to patients who are undergoing withdrawal. The purpose of medical detox is to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and addiction cravings in a safe environment where medication can be administered as needed.


What Is Used to Cut Heroin?

Heroin can be easily cut or diluted with a variety of substances. Because heroin cutting agents are often other harmful chemicals, they may amplify the effects of heroin or cause more intense symptoms. These cutting agents may vary depending on the form of heroin the person is trying to create and sell. The practice of cutting heroin down with random chemicals and substances is common practice, and street heroin is rarely ever pure.


Some of the most common heroin cutting agents include: 

  • Baking soda
  • Crushed over-the-counter pills or medications
  • Talcum powder
  • Powdered milk
  • Laundry detergent
  • Caffeine
  • Rat poison
  • Sugar
  • Starch 
  • Carfentanil
  • Crushed prescription pills 


While none of these substances are safe to snort, smoke, or inject, some are less harmful than others. Some substances, like medications, can mask the signs of overdose. As a result, the user is less likely to seek out medical attention, increasing their risk of brain damage and death. Other heroin cutting agents don’t dissolve in the bloodstream and may create blockages and buildup in the arteries. This could lead to cardiovascular problems like a heart attack, stroke, liver disease, and blockages in the brain.

Fentanyl is also a popular cutting agent for drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Using heroin that contains fentanyl dramatically increases the user’s risk of overdose and death. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, making it extremely deadly in large doses. The combination of heroin and fentanyl significantly increases the individual’s chances of overdose and death.

Heroin addiction can negatively impact a person’s life in various ways. Because this drug is so potent and often contains other addictive cutting agents, like fentanyl, people with heroin dependence often require proper help to quit. At our treatment center in California, we offer heroin addiction treatment that addresses the emotional and physical effects of this substance abuse disorder.


Effects of Heroin Cutting Agents

Because heroin cutting agents are often random chemicals that are chosen for their physical appearance, their side effects can be unpredictable and deadly.


The short- and long-term effects of heroin include: 

  • Addiction
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive itching
  • Brain fog
  • “On the nod,” going between conscious to semiconscious
  • Heavy feelings in the limbs
  • Insomnia
  • Lung problems, such as pneumonia
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Damaged nose tissue, in users who snorted heroin
  • Infection in the heart tissue and lining
  • Collapsed veins for users who injected heroin
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Irregular or disrupted menstrual cycles in women
  • Changes in brain structure, decreased white and gray matter


Heroin users who inject it are at a higher risk of contracting diseases like HIV, AIDS, and Hepatitis. Long-term heroin abuse can also cause various heart problems like clogged blood vessels and infections in the vessels and tissue lining. Heroin overdoses are also common in users due to the use of certain cutting agents.

The emotional, physical and financial effects of drug abuse can take a toll on anyone. If you or someone you know is caught in the grip of heroin addiction, we can help. Call Banyan Palm Springs now at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our inpatient rehab in Palm Springs, California.


Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.

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