Black Tar Heroin

75 minutes 7.9/10 based on 19 votes

An extraordinary look at two years in the lives of five young heroin addicts, Black Tar Heroin offers a rare and intimate portrait of how heroin devastates young lives.

The film chronicles the daily lives of Jake, Jessica, Tracey, Oreo and Alice, three young women and two young men, ages 18 to 25, as they face the ever-present perils of hard core drug addiction–crime, prostitution, rape, incarceration, AIDS, overdoses and death.

The film shows the brutality and degradation of the drug life, but also depicts the addicts’ pain and raw yearning — to get clean, to hold relationships together, to re-connect with their families, to get their lives back.

Released in 1999.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • jj

    watched this years ago, been looking around on the net to see what eventually happened to the five people. jessica and jake must be dead but i don’t know.

    • Theresa Ainge

      They did a follow up on the addicts. You have to look really hard. Look it up on Wikipedia n it’ll tell you the name of the special.

  • Hi jj

    I used to have the dvd, which features some extra material. As far as I remember Jake died, Jessica disappeared and was never hear from again and is presumed dead. Tracey managed to get her life back on track, and…well…can’t remember what happened to Oreo and Alice…I think Alice moved back to Seattle, but I’m not sure.

    Great doc indeed…I show it to my 9th graders each year in biology when we get to the subject of addiction…

  • Ianers

    Found this for anyone that cares

    • BrokenHalo

      Thanks for posting that…

      I showed this doc. to my 15 yr old and she was asking me whatever happened to these guys….helpful. Thanks again.

  • Tashamwallis

    watched this twice now…wld really like to kno what happened to them all??

  • Ttusss

     poor afghans… pffff, the american propaganda is everywhere… what a disgusting world

  • Kev

    It usually takes something extremely drastic to make someone wake up and kick this habit. People who underestimate or dont undertand the power that opiates hold over an addict will never quite fully understand why or how someone allows their life to slip by further every day due to the constant struggle of simply wanting to feel normal.

  • redbar


  • Rachel

    I think opiate/heroin is so hard to kick because it turns off our frontal lobe of the brain which is where we understand consequences…and on top of that it makes you feel very good…also stops our brains from producing the natural endorphins/opiates once you start taking it….you feel no pain anywhere….this is one of the best docs I have seen on heroin.

  • Hyungnam Gu

    In a 2004 follow up interview with Tracey, she reveals she is now a full-time drug counselor, while Jessica is still working as a prostitute despite having HIV. Alice is believed to be sober since 2002. Oreo’s whereabouts are unknown; his girlfriend Jennifer went to treatment, when she relapsed shortly after she got out she died from an asthma attack while in a “drug house”. She gasped for air for 40 mins (and nobody helped her) before she died. Jake overcame his heroin addiction and began methadone treatment. Shortly after stopping his methadone and the break-up with his first clean and sober girlfriend, Jake was found dead of a drug overdose in January 2002. Tracey’s boyfriend, Ben, died of an overdose just one week after being released from prison on a burglary charge.

    In a further update on YouTube, Tracey revealed she had earned a master’s degree, married and become a mother to three kids; as of July 2015 update, she stated she was 16 years clean. She has written one book already and has a second one on the way. Tracey works in the community she used to use drugs in, helping those who suffer from addiction.

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