Cheese heroin stands next to a question mark in red

A disturbing and dangerous street drug, known as “cheese”, has been plaguing areas in which it has been distributed. The drug, which contains heroin, has been particularly concerning for its popularity amongst adolescents.

One study performed on adolescents addicted to the street drug found that the average age of first use was 13.5 years, and the average age of daily use was 14.2 years. (1)

Here we discuss cheese heroin, what it is, and the dangers it poses.

What is cheese heroin?

“Cheese” heroin is a street drug that began being distributed in the southern United States A collage of the effects of Cheese heroin in approximately 2005. The drug is made from an over-the-counter allergy medication and a form of heroin.

The allergy medication is diphenhydramine, which is used in medicines such as Benadryl and Tylenol PM.

The diphenhydramine is then ground up, and a form of heroin known as black-tar heroin is added to the mix. The resulting substance resembles parmesan cheese, which likely is the reason for the street name “cheese”. (2)

Why is cheese heroin such a problem for adolescents?

Cheese heroin typically is made with a small amount of pure black-tar heroin and sold for only $2 per hit. The DEA has reported confirming from wiretaps that the drug has been intentionally marketed at adolescent teenagers in order to get them addicted heroin.

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Thus, cheese heroin has been used as a gateway drug for dealers to get adolescents hooked on heroin. (3) Since being introduced to the drug market, cheese heroin has been responsible for dozens of fatal adolescent overdoses. (2)

What are the signs, symptoms, and effects of cheese heroin use?

Cheese heroin combines the effects of two different drugs. First, the diphenhydramine found in cheese heroin causes sedation and drowsiness. Diphenhydramine also has the ability to potentiate the effects of the black-tar heroin found in the drug. The effects of the black tar heroin include the following (5):

  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Warm flushing of skin
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Sense of well being
  • Tolerance
  • Physical and Physiological addiction

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25176119
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/06/12/cheese.heroin/index.html
  3. https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2010/10/12/dea-be-on-lookout-for-inexpensive-cheese-heroin/
  4. https://www.rxlist.com/benadryl-drug.htm
  5. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf#page=42