What is Cheese Heroin?

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Cheese heroin, or cheese drug, combines Mexican black tar heroin and over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol PM or prescription drugs like Xanax. Once the drug is mixed, it is tan in color and has a powder consistency. It is usually snorted through the nose with a ballpoint pen, tube or straw. What makes this drug so dangerous is that it is easily accessible and highly addictive. Children as young as 9 years old are buying it across the U.S. - many are immediately rushed to the emergency room! The combination of black tar heroin and over-the-counter drugs can cause the user’s heart to stop beating and lungs to stop working leading to immediate death.


History of Cheese Heroin

At the turn of the century in the early 2000s the first reported cases of cheese heroin came to light. The most common cases were among school-aged children in Dallas, Texas [1] with Hispanic and Mexican-American populations at the greatest risk of cheese drug abuse. The first reported cases contained a mix of black tar heroin, which comes from Mexico, and Tylenol.

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What Are The Cheese Heroin Effects?

Using cheese heroin can cause the user to feel:

●     Tired

●     Lethargic

●     Disoriented

●     Hungry

●     Euphoric

Additional side effects of cheese heroin can include:

●     Nausea

●     Constipation

●     Mental health problems

●     Damaged blood vessels and tissues in the nose

●     Clouded mental function

●     Impaired judgment

●     Severe itching

The user may begin to perform poorly in school or work and choose to be around friends who are also users. 

Cheese Heroin Addiction Withdrawal

While acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, found in Tylenol and Tylenol PM, are not addictive, heroin is extremely addictive. Taking any drug repeatedly can lead to dependence and addiction, and eventual withdrawal when trying to get off the drug.

Cheese addiction withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours of use and last for several months. Some symptoms of withdrawal include:

●     Chills

●     Vomiting

●     Headache

●     Nausea

●     Anxiety

●     Muscle pains and spasms

●     Agitation

●     Disorientation

●     Disassociation (disconnecting from thoughts, feelings, memories, and sense of identity)

These are just some of the side effects of using cheese heroin.

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Cheese Heroin Overdose

Since illicit drug dealers produce cheese heroin, it is hard to know exactly how much heroin is in each batch. The higher the amount of heroin, the higher the chance of overdose. Overdosing on cheese drug can cause severe respiratory depression. This can include slower breathing which reduces the amount of oxygen coming to the brain, which could lead to brain damage.

The high concentration of acetaminophen in cheese heroin can cause severe liver damage which could lead to immediate death. Survivors of cheese heroin overdose may require dialysis for life or a liver transplant.

Cheese heroin overdose can lead to:

●     Coma

●     Brain damage

●     Liver damage

●     Death


Using cheese heroin is both addictive and deadly, targeting mostly young people. Between 2005 - 2007 [2], at least 17 teenagers were reported dead due to cheese heroin in the Dallas county area, and it continues to be a dangerous issue.

Treatment centers in the Dallas area have noted a lowering in the age of their teen clientele. While the median age used to be 15 to 17, the youngest patients are now as young as 11 years old, with the harmful cheese heroin addiction becoming increasingly more prevalent.

Ramifications of Cheese Heroin Use

Due to the high prevalence of cheese heroin addiction in Dallas, many supermarkets and pharmacies started to remove Tylenol PM from their shelves since they noticed a spike in theft of the product and they didn’t want to contribute in any way to cheese addiction. Tylenol PM was still available, but the availability was monitored. Removing over-the-counter drugs from the shelves led to fewer findings of cheese heroin in the Dallas schools.

While the abuse of cheese heroin is mostly limited to the Dallas area, there have been reports in other areas of the U.S. Cheese heroin has been found in Boulder County, Colorado, Shreveport, Louisiana and also some parts of Ohio. In the Ohio finding, the heroin was not mixed with over-the-counter medications, rather the users would ingest over-the-counter medications immediately after taking heroin to prolong their high.

How to Prevent Addiction to Cheese Heroin

If you are a parent reading this article, you may be concerned that your child could be offered cheese heroin. We’ve all heard the saying to “just say no to drugs,” but with the prevalence of drug addiction soaring in the U.S., there is more we can do as parents than just teach our kids to say “no” to drugs.

5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Away from Drugs

  1. Supervise Your Child

Many parents think that once kids are old enough to be left at home alone, they can leave them at home for hours, but it is best to ensure they are supervised properly so that they don’t get bored and try experimenting with drugs.

  1. Be a Good Example

You are your child’s role model. The more that you as a parent refrain from recreational drug and alcohol use the more likely that your child will refrain. Keep an eye on how much you drink at parties and how much you are experimenting with drugs.

  1. Build a Relationship

Get to know your child and their interests in life. What kind of music does your child like? What’s their favorite TV show and movie? Once you have a strong relationship with your child, they are more likely to turn to you for guidance if they get in with a bad crowd or get offered drugs.

  1. Build Their Self Esteem

Help your child explore different hobbies to find something they are great at. This can help build their self-esteem. A confident teen will likely say “no” to drugs because they won’t want to mess up their life.

  1. Give them tools to say “no”

Role play with your child to help them say “no” to drugs. Give them ideas of what to say if someone offers them drugs. One option is to say “no.” Another option is to walk away. They could also offer their friends ideas of other things to do like go to a movie or play a video game.

There is Support for Overcoming Addiction

If you or your loved one is suffering from a cheese heroin addiction, or any other drug addiction, Avenues Recovery is here to support you. As leaders in addiction rehabilitation, we’ve helped countless addicts find their way to sobriety. Contact us today to start your journey to recovery.


[1] dallaspolice.net

[2] en.wikipedia.o

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