A heroin spoon is used to cook heroin, preparing it for injection use. The heroin is placed on the spoon, and a lighter is usually used to heat the heroin from below the spoon.
Other pieces of heroin paraphernalia include straws or rolled bills to snort heroin, shoelaces or other pieces to tie off veins for injection use, cotton balls or cigarette filters, glass pipes, lighters, aluminum foil, and aluminum cans.
How to Identify a Heroin Spoon
It’s fairly easy to identify a heroin spoon. It looks like a blackened or burnt spoon.
The bowl of a spoon will often be blackened from the flame used to heat it up and liquefy the heroin. Cooking the heroin converts the substance from powder or solid form into an injectable liquid.
Most people who use heroin repeatedly use the same spoons since they use the drug frequently. This often results in a very blackened bottom of the spoon.
What Is a Heroin Spoon Used For?
Heroin is sold and distributed in powder or tar form. The spoon is a vessel that facilitates liquefaction in order to transform the drug into an injectable substance. This is facilitated by placing the raw heroin in the bowl of the spoon and holding a flame underneath it.
Heroin powder is required to dissolve in a liquid of some type, depending on the heroin, before cooking. Tar does not require a liquid.
Other Objects Commonly Used With a Heroin Spoon
Other objects are commonly used with heroin. They are often considered paraphernalia and include the following:
- Cotton balls or cigarette filters
- Hypodermic needles
- Rubber tubing or shoelaces
- Aluminum foil or cans
The cotton balls are used to soak up the liquified heroin. Sometimes, they are used as a sort of filter to “purify” the drug. Cigarette filters may be used for this purpose as well.
Hypodermic needles are then used to suck up the liquid through the cotton ball. The rubber tubing or even shoelaces are used to tie around an arm before injection. This alters blood flow and makes the veins pop out, making it easier to inject into them.
In some instances, users may place heroin on aluminum foil or an aluminum can instead of a spoon. They then follow the same practice to heat the drug.
Common Street Names for a Heroin Spoon
Nicknames or slang terms are often used on the street to describe heroin and heroin paraphernalia.
Common street names for a heroin spoon are cooker and bottle caps. Metal bottle caps are sometimes used in place of heroin spoons as well.
Dangers of Injecting Heroin
There are many dangers that come with injecting heroin.
Skin infections can easily occur, and these are most commonly caused by contaminants in the heroin, utensils, or needles, as well as overall poor hygiene. Non-sterile equipment can often cause skin infections and abscesses to occur, which can lead to even more serious issues if ignored.
Heroin use causes heart problems and damage to the kidneys and liver. It can lead to endocarditis, which is inflammation and damage to the interior lining of the heart. Infections of the heart valves can also occur as a result of injecting heroin.
There is a high risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases when sharing needles for injection drug use.
The brain changes as a result of continued heroin use. Damage to the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobe occurs, which affects memory, decision-making, self-control, and critical thinking.
Overdose is common with heroin use due to the effect on the opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors control several bodily functions, primarily respiratory and cardiac. When the respiratory system shuts down, the oxygen supply to the brain and heart drops. The person can then quickly die from cardiac and respiratory arrest.
While naloxone can temporarily reverse a heroin overdose, it requires someone to be in enough control to administer it. Its effects are also temporary, so further medical treatment is needed even if naloxone is given.
- Percentage of Overdose Deaths Involving Methadone Declined Between January 2019 and August 2021. (July 2022). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Drug Paraphernalia Laws Undermine Harm Reduction. (June 2022). Cato Institute.
- Heroin Use in the Mexican Northern Border: A Qualitative and Epidemiological Study in Field and Treatment Centers. (February 2022). National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- Understanding Heroin Overdose: A Study of the Acute Respiratory Depressant Effects of Injected Pharmaceutical Heroin. (October 2015). PLOS ONE.