An unexpected outbreak of the drug “cheese” began in Dallas, Texas, around 2004. The onset of cheese heroin use occurred mostly among teens living in Hispanic neighborhoods. Little was known about this new version of heroin and how the use in first-generation Hispanic immigrant neighborhoods could be stopped. Because cheese heroin comes in a powder, an additional concern for law enforcement was the likelihood of users transitioning to injection. As a drug rehab in Texas, we can’t help but be curious about cheese heroin, its side effects, and how it’s different from the typical kind of heroin.
The “cheese” drug or cheese heroin is a combination of black tar heroin and crushed Tylenol PM tablets. The drug costs only a couple of dollars, making it cheap and accessible to children, teens, and young adults. Of all the different kinds of heroin, cheese heroin is the cheapest on the market. According to the Dallas Police Department, “cheese” makes up 37% of total drug usage among students.1 Just like other versions of heroin, “cheese” is highly addictive and dangerous. Cheese heroin is usually snorted with a straw, tube, or ballpoint pen. It’s usually sold in small paper bundles or small zip-lock baggies.
Despite the name, cheese heroin does not contain cheese. Instead, it got its name from its yellow-orange color. Cheese heroin is made of a combination of black tar heroin and Tylenol PM tablets or other kinds of over-the-counter medications. Some of these medications may also contain diphenhydramine HCL, which is used to treat allergy symptoms, motion sickness, and also to induce sleep. Black tar heroin is a type of heroin that comes in a black, sticky substance similar to tar. It produces the same side effects as the powder version of heroin. Tylenol PM is a combination of acetaminophen and diphenhydramine that’s used to treat occasional insomnia and minor aches and pains.
Heroin, the base of cheese heroin, is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the opium poppy plant. It can come in the form of a white or brown powder or a black, sticky substance known as black tar heroin. On its own, heroin binds to opioid receptors on brain cells in different areas of the body to produce euphoria and sedation. Because heroin is the base of cheese heroin, both versions produce similar side effects.
The side effects of cheese heroin include:
However, while the “cheese” version of heroin produces similar side effects as the original kind, it does contain additional ingredients that may contribute to users’ symptoms. When you add central nervous system depressants like Tylenol PM and diphenhydramine HCL to the mix, the risk of respiratory depression and overdose is heightened. Respiratory depression refers to ineffective or shallow breathing, preventing the individual from getting enough oxygen, and this can lead to brain damage and/or death.
Cheese heroin is also addictive, meaning that long-term use can lead to addiction and physical dependence. Like other kinds of heroin, cheese heroin can also cause withdrawal symptoms, including headache, chills, nausea, vomiting, muscle pains, spasms, anxiety, and more. Despite these risks, however, many who are addicted to cheese heroin will struggle to quit on their own. Heroin detox and addiction treatment led by medical professionals are recommended to increase the person’s chances of recovery.
Cheese heroin is the snack that doesn’t smile back for many reasons. Despite the added ingredients in cheese heroin, Banyan Treatment Centers Texas offers heroin addiction treatment to help you or a loved one get clean. To learn more about the dangers of heroin and how our drug addiction treatment in Texas can help, call us at 888-280-4763. Our team is available at any time to discuss our inpatient drug treatment.