Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street is a 1999 documentary filmed by Japanese-American Steven Okazaki. It was filmed in the Tenderloin, an area in downtown San Francisco, California, which has a high-crime rate and follows the stories of five young heroin addicts over the course of three years. The documentary highlights just some of the problems that they face – drug-related crimes, prostitution, AIDS and lethal overdoses.
Black tar heroin is a type of opiate narcotic drug, which is produced in Latin America. The kids from the documentary injected the substance constantly, putting themselves at high risk of venous sclerosis, a condition where the blood vessels harden and constrict, making any future injections at the site virtually impossible.
Because black tar heroin destroys veins so fast, users have to inject it subcutaneously (also known as skin popping). However, this method also puts the users at a small risk of HIV infection… surprise surprise, some of the addicts in the film are HIV positive. Another risk that addicts run by skin popping is an increased risk of life-threatening bacterial infections, especially necrotising fasciitis (flesh-eating disease).
Personally, I have never touched any form of drug, and it is extremely unlikely that I will ever do so, so I find it difficult to comprehend why anyone would take drugs in the first place, especially those who already knew the risks and dangers that narcotic drugs pose to our bodies. Although I did not find out the fates of the addicts in the film, supposedly one of the girls, Alice, is now clean and sober and is much happier for it, but one of the other HIV-positive girls may have died after filming, though I do not know the cause, if it’s even true in the first place. Sadly, it’s very likely that the others are still on drugs and struggling with the same demons.
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