Understanding the Top Signs of Heroin Addiction
Are you afraid that someone you love may be addicted to heroin? If so, check out this guide to learn the top signs of heroin addiction.
People who do heroin are 6-20 times more likely to die than non-heroin users.
Heroin use usually stems from underlying depression and unhappiness.
Stay on alert and look for signs in loved ones who may suffer from mental health issues and other addictions.
Recognizing the signs of heroin addiction, especially early on, is often difficult. Luckily, it can be done.
You need to be vigilant and constantly check for signs. If you suspect a loved one is a heroin user, there are resources that can help them overcome their addiction.
The details of heroin use in this guide are thorough. However, it’s important to remember that the way heroin use varies from person to person.
This means that a person is not likely to exhibit all the signs listed here at once. It does mean that if a person displays a few signs very consistently, they could be a heroin addict.
Knowing the signs of addiction can save lives and prevent trauma.
To prevent your loved ones from suffering from heroin abuse, familiarize yourself with the signs in this guide. And know what to do if a loved one has a heroin addiction.
A Seemingly Normal Person Suddenly Acting Strange
When people picture heroin users, they usually don’t picture a normal looking person.
Media has taught people that heroin users are often poor. They are often portrayed as intimidating. They live in broken down trailer parks and are wild and reckless.
In real life, though, many heroin users manage to do more than look normal. They can be stylish and wear the latest clothes from top designers.
Their apartments can be tidy and upscale, with no trace of heroin residue on tables or countertops.
Heroin users can even be students in a dorm with average looking rooms. Or just regular people with everyday jobs.
They can cover up the physical symptoms with makeup or tattoos. And, except for constricted pupils, nobody could be any the wiser that they are a heroin addict.
It is usually not until peak heroin usage that their habit begins to break their life down. They might need more heroin but not have enough money to buy as much as they want.
This time period is most often when family and friends notice something is wrong. They might start acting strangely, and heroin withdrawal can take effect.
This is why it’s important to recognize the more subtle effects of heroin. It’s also important to know who is most at risk for developing a heroin addiction.
Most Likely Groups with Signs of Heroin Addiction
During the 1960s and 70s, heroin was mostly a problem of inner-city youth.
This is no longer the case due to the rise in prescription opiates, economic stress, and higher rates of depression.
Now, 90% of heroin users are white working class suburbanites. Most of them started using prescription pain medication as prescribed by their doctor.
But because opiates are addictive and cause euphoria, it was easy for many people to get hooked.
This has resulted in more young people selling their prescriptions to afford heroin. As of 2010, there is an almost equal chance of heroin being used by men and women.
People who have experienced a major injury are also more likely to use heroin. This is especially true if their doctor stopped prescribing them opiate medication.
Self medicating for a mental illness such as depression or PTSD is another reason people turn to heroin. Therapy may not be getting them the results they want.
Heroin makes the pain and trauma of mental illness go away for short periods of time.
A person can also develop a heroin addiction from using other drugs that have been laced.
Many drug dealers want repeat clients, so they may cut cocaine with heroin to start selling it to more people.
Odd Changes in Behavior
Heroin is highly addictive. As a person begins to use heroin, they require more of the drug to get high. This is because they are constantly building a tolerance to it.
The more of a drug someone needs, the more they are forced to purchase from a dealer. This increase in cost eventually outweighs the user’s budget, and they change their behavior in their desperation for money.
The first and most common behavioral change is that the user will start asking friends and family to borrow money.
They also tend to lie about what this money is for. More often than not, they will also never pay back these loans. Having unpaid debt often puts stress on these relationships.
Losing connections with once valued friends is often a source of distress. This distress can lead heroin users to seek even more heroin.
If a heroin user does somehow manage to procure more heroin, this puts them at even more risk. For one, their chance of overdosing goes up.
They will also start chasing heroin just to feel normal. This is because their tolerance has grown so much, they can no longer get high.
Also, going for long periods of time without heroin can cause withdrawal. Withdrawal can look like flu symptoms but is caused by chemical dependency on heroin.
Heroin Paraphernalia in Their Spaces
There are many tools and items that heroin users need to do heroin. For example, heroin often comes in small Ziploc bags, small aluminum squares, and rubber balloons.
If someone does black tar heroin, they would typically dissolve it into a liquid so it can be injected into their veins.
As such, items used to do black tar heroin often include:
- A cord to tie off the arm
- Lighters to melt the heroin
- Burned Spoons where heroin is melted
- Syringes for injection
To snort more pure heroin, users often have:
- Rolled up papers
- Hollow writing tools
- A hard surface to snort the dust off of
To smoke heroin, users will often resort to:
- Inhaling the vapors from burning aluminum cans
- Burning the heroin on foil
- Using a straw to better inhale vapors
- Pipes to smoke heroin more directly into the lungs
Heroin is most often injected. Most heroin users will have track marks going down their arms, or their necks if they can no longer use their arms.
Many heroin users stop concerning themselves with hygiene. As such, many of them use dirty needles. These needles can cause infections, leading some heroin users to scratch at their arms constantly.
Recognizing Withdrawal in Heroin Users
Heroin withdrawal does not usually occur in first-time users. Withdrawal happens to users who have built up a chemical dependency to heroin. Some withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Runny nose due to snorting heroin and irritating the nasal passages
- Diarrhea from heroin drawing excess water into the digestive tract
- Vomiting as a result of the body trying to purge harmful chemicals from itself
- Fever due to the body working overtime to process new chemicals
Additionally, heroin users can also experience psychological issues like:
- Anxiety due to the brain’s chemical dependency on heroin causing the sudden lack of the drug to prevent the brain from functioning properly
- Insomnia from too much brain activity
- Irritability occurs from the strong desire of the body to have heroin but not receive any
- Strong cravings for heroin because of its highly addictive nature, and the sudden lack of what the brain now perceives as a necessary chemical
Thankfully, there are ways to overcome withdrawal symptoms.
Having a light workout routine can help build structure and regulate the body’s needs.
Staying in touch with family and friends provides a good emotional support structure. They will be there whenever the user needs to talk about their experience or just keep them from feeling lonely.
Maintaining a positive attitude and remembering that the symptoms are only temporary can also go a long way on the road to recovery.
Talking to Your Loved One About Their Heroin Use
If you do find out that your loved one is abusing heroin, remain calm. Don’t panic, but give yourself time to collect your thoughts.
Be sure to approach them with a positive, caring attitude so that they don’t feel afraid. Make sure they feel safe and comfortable so they’re more likely to open up to you about why they started doing heroin.
If you continue to notice signs of heroin addiction after talking with them, continue to be patient with them.
They may not be ready to give up their habit, and you can’t force them.
Make sure to develop a plan with them, so you know what to do if they overdose. Remember to keep naloxone in the house at all times. And keep knowledge of who their dealers are in case they overdose because of a bad batch.
Knowing who their dealers are will allow you and your community to better pinpoint the exact source of the bad heroin.Finally, look for a reputable rehab clinic near you. Almost all heroin users do genuinely want to quit, so it helps for you to be prepared to guide them.