Heroin Addiction What to Watch For

When someone you love has a heroin addiction, it can be hard to tell if they are on heroin.

If you are aware of heroin abuse symptoms, then you may be able to save someone’s life.

Although heroin is one of the most addictive drugs available, and no one intends on becoming addicted, people find themselves easily addicted.

Once you become addicted, you may not feel normal without it.

Heroin Addiction What to Watch For Pathfinders - A woman stares at a needle with heroin in it. If you think a loved one is addicted to heroin you need to how to tell if someone is on heroin by looking for the signs here.

How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin: Signs

Although you might think that you would know if someone is using heroin, it may not be true.

So how can you tell if someone is on heroin?

There are a few signs of Heroin addiction to look for:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Small pupils
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Secretive behavior
  • Dramatic changes in appearance
  • Lack of motivation
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Financial problems
  • Borrowing money
  • Track marks

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Dangers of Heroin Addiction: How to Tell if Someone is High on Heroin

Heroin has addictive potential, and there are long-term and short-term effects of using this drug. There are also indirect risks that can be life-threatening.
In general, intravenous heroin users have a higher risk of being infected with viruses. These viruses might include HIV or hepatitis. Other blood-borne illnesses are a risk for those addicted to heroin because heroin users usually share needles. Additionally, risky sexual behavior can lead to high virus rates in heroin users.
Other ways to tell if someone is on heroin include:

  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Paranoia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Collapsed veins
  • Severe itchiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea and vomiting

It is important to note that the side effects of heroin get worse over time. The longer someone uses heroin, the more the drug ruins the immune system and internal organs. Communicable and non-communicable diseases are common among heroin users, and long-term use may lead to heart, lung, and liver disease.
There is also the chance of a fatal overdose with heroin because it suppresses breathing and heart rates. Even a nonfatal overdose can cause permanent brain damage or coma.

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How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin: Recognizing Heroin Addiction

Due to it being physically and psychologically addictive, heroin can quickly lead to addiction. Stop addiction before it starts. Eleven signs indicate heroin addiction:

  1. Taking heroin in larger amounts or over a long period.
  2. Having the desire to cut down on heroin use or stop use and not being able to stop.
  3. Spending your time on activities associated with heroin: finding the drug, using it, or recovering from its effects.
  4. Craving heroin or having a strong desire to use.
  5. Consistent use that interferes with obligations, these obligations might be at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued use regardless of how it affects your social life.
  7. Giving up important activities to use heroin.
  8. Dangerous situations occur, repeatedly, because of heroin use.
  9. There is heroin use despite the danger and repercussions on both your physical and mental health.
  10. Tolerance has grown in two ways. You need more amounts to achieve the desired effect, or there are diminished drug effects when using the same amount.
  11. There is withdrawal after not using heroin for a short amount of time.

How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin With a Mental Illness

How to tell if someone is high on heroin? They have an increased risk of committing suicide because they have a mental condition, such as bipolar disorder or depression. These mental conditions can exacerbate addiction symptoms and also increase the risk of suicide.
Often there is depression that comes along with withdrawal as well. These feelings might trigger a suicide attempt, and it is important to try to help a heroin addict before this happens.

What is Dual Diagnosis?

When trying to decide how to tell if someone is on heroin, you need to see if they have a dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is when you have a mental health problem at the same time as a substance use disorder. When this occurs, it is crucial to treat the mental illness and substance use disorder. If you only treat one of your diagnoses, you will not obtain sobriety long term.

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How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin and How to Get Them Into Treatment

There are a few ways that you can attempt to get someone you love into treatment.

  • Choose a time and place that your loved one feels comfortable. Doing this in front of many people or before they run off to work is not the best time. Try to select a time that gives privacy, enough time to talk and physical comfort to the addicted person.
  • Make sure you will be able to remain as calm as possible. Do not try to make the situation seem carefree or pretend that it is not a big deal. Do try to keep an even tone and stay on the topic of addiction.
  • Be honest about how their addiction has made you feel, and make sure they understand how it has impacted your life. Often addicts feel that they are only hurting themselves with their addiction.
  • Always remember that addiction is a disease.
  • Listen to them and see if they are willing to speak about their addiction. If so, this is a good sign. How you decide to react will affect the entire tone of the meeting.
  • If possible, find a time when they are sober. But how to tell if someone is on heroin? Look for all the warning signs listed above. If they are sober, it may allow them to process the situation in a more rational headspace.
  • If you have attempted to speak to them already, you may want to hold a professional intervention.

Intervention

Because people addicted to heroin are often reluctant to go to treatment, holding an intervention can help. Even if someone is in the early stages of their addiction, an intervention may be helpful. Despite this, they may not see their use as a problem needing treatment. If they have attempted to quit previously without success, an intervention may be the only way to convince them to get help.

Heroin Addiction What to Watch For Pathfinders - Several people sit in group therapy at heroin rehab and console one of the members of the group as she talks about the bad choices she made when she was addicted. Knowing to how to tell if someone is on heroin is the first step to helping someone.

Withdrawal

The best way to tell if someone is on heroin is to see if they show withdrawal symptoms. Heroin addiction has a physical dependence. This dependence develops with abuse and can also include a psychological dependency. Physical dependence includes withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, and vomiting.

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Learn How to Tell if Someone is on Heroin and Get Help Today

If you or someone you love needs help, contact us to learn about our free insurance verification for treatment.

At Pathfinders, we help you in any heroin addiction stage and help you understand how to tell if someone is on heroin.

Reach out today.

The Heroin Withdrawal Timeline: A Guide on What You Should Know

Know What Heroin Withdrawal Timeline Looks Like

If you use or are addicted to drugs, chances are you know it’s a good idea to stop.

But quitting is much easier said than done, not least of all because quitting means going through withdrawal.

And withdrawal can be a scary and painful process, especially if you’ve never gone through it before.

Knowing what the heroin withdrawal timeline looks like can help you know what to expect when you decide to quit.

You’ll know what’s coming, how long it will last, and when you’ll start to feel better.

Read on to learn more about this timeline and what to expect when you get ready to quit heroin.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline - Wooden blocks on top of a piece of wood with the letters "DETOX" in black. If you struggler with Heroin abuse you need help. Call today for our Heroin Rehab.
Detox word made with wooden blocks concept

What Is Heroin?

Before we dive into the heroin withdrawal timeline, let’s take a moment to discuss what heroin actually is.

You may have heard of it by the names horse, hell dust, big H, or smack. Heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine that is derived from the seeds of poppy flowers.

Heroin can come in a few different forms, including a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance called black tar heroin. It can be injected, snorted, or smoked, depending on the form.

Some people mix heroin and crack cocaine in a practice called speedballing.

Effects of Heroin

Because heroin is related to morphine, a drug used to control pain, one of its primary effects is a vanishing of any pain you may have been feeling.

Many users describe a sort of rush or wave of euphoria that comes over them right after they take the drug.

Other short-term effects can include dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, severe itching, clouded mental function, and drifting in and out of consciousness, sometimes known as “going on the nod.”

Long-term heroin effects can be devastating, ranging from insomnia and cramps to collapsed veins and livery and kidney disease. People with penises may experience sexual dysfunction, and people who have periods may start to have irregular cycles.

You may see swollen tissue filled with pus, damage to your nose, pneumonia, and a number of mental illnesses crop up, too.

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Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The First Day

Heroin users may experience the early symptoms of withdrawal many times over the course of their use. These symptoms start between six and twenty-four hours after you take the drug and can last for a day or two.

These early symptoms are usually mild, but they can be unpleasant enough to lead the user to take heroin again to get rid of them.

Within that first day, you’ll start to feel like you have a bad case of the flu. You’ll get muscle aches that will get worse over the next couple of days.

You may also get anxiety or even panic attacks. You might get diarrhea or start shaking, and you may find yourself more irritable than usual.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The Next Few Days

After the first day or two, symptoms of heroin withdrawal will start to peak. These few days are the worst of the heroin withdrawal cycle and are when you’ll need the most support around you.

You can expect these symptoms to start around the third day of no heroin use and will last two or three days.

During the peak of withdrawal, you’ll start to experience extreme stomach cramping and nausea or vomiting. You may start to sweat and get the shivers, and you might run a fever during this time.

You may have more diarrhea, and you might have trouble getting to sleep or settling down.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline -  A man holds his stomach in pain as he cramps up and is sick. According to the heroin withdrawal timeline the symptons will show usually in day 3.
A man holds his stomach in pain as he cramps up and is sick.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline – The End of the Week

About five days after you last use heroin, you’ll start to come into the end of the acute withdrawal phase. Your symptoms will start to improve across the board, and you’ll start to feel better.

There will be some lingering effects of withdrawal, but the worst will be over.

You may still have some trouble getting a full night’s rest during this stage, but you should be able to sleep a little more. Your muscle aches and nausea will start to wear off, and you’ll start to feel like you’re coming off a bad case of the flu.

You’ll feel very tired, and that fatigue can last for months, but your stomach and bowels will start to get back to normal, and your fever should subside.

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Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Even once you’re past the first week of acute withdrawal, you’re far from out of the woods. During that whole withdrawal process, you’ll be craving heroin to experience that high again, and that craving can last for months.

After the first week of acute withdrawal, you’ll enter post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is the time when you’ll start to recover from the neurological damage that the heroin caused.

You may feel tired and irritable for months, and you may find you still have trouble sleeping. Anxiety and depression are common, and you may experience more cravings for heroin.

Factors That Affect Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

There are a number of factors that can affect how your withdrawal goes and how long it lasts. First among these is the amount of time you spent using heroin.

If you’ve only used heroin a couple of times, you’re going to have a much easier time in withdrawal than someone who’s been using heroin for years.

Which kind of heroin you use can also impact what your withdrawal experience is like. Things like speedballing or using black tar heroin can complicate your withdrawal, depending on the purity of the substances.

The amount of heroin you took each time can also affect how intense your symptoms are.

Medical Intervention

When you’re going through withdrawal, it can be a good idea to have a medical team around you monitoring you and keeping you comfortable.

Things like dehydration, fever, and seizures can present very real threats during the detox process. And if you’re quitting cold-turkey after years of using high amounts of heroin, especially mixed with other drugs, having medical help could save your life.

Doctors and nurses can provide you with IVs to help keep you hydrated and comfortable during withdrawal. They can take steps to ensure that something like a fever or a seizure doesn’t become life-threatening.

And they can make sure you get all the way through the withdrawal process without succumbing to the cravings and taking more heroin, starting the process all over again.

Helpful Medications

In addition to basic comforts, doctors may also be able to provide you with some medications that can help you during the heroin withdrawal timeline.

These medicines may be opioid-based, so they can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. But they aren’t as potent or as dangerous as heroin, so you get clean in a safer, easier way.

Methadone is a slow-acting, low-strength opiate that can help you taper off the effects of heroin and prevent withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine can reduce heroin cravings and symptoms like vomiting and muscle aches.

And naltrexone blocks receptors in the brain that respond to heroin, helping to reduce cravings in the long-term.

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Long-Term Treatment

Once you’re through the initial withdrawal stage, you still have a long road ahead of you to recovery. For one thing, you’ll need to get through post-acute withdrawal syndrome and past the point of craving heroin, which can take months or even years.

You’ll need to restructure your life to avoid triggers that make you tempted to start using again.

But oftentimes, there’s an underlying issue that led you to start taking heroin in the first place. This could be anything from chronic pain, mental illness, or some sort of emotional trauma.

Before you can get back to living a healthy, happy life free of heroin, you’ll need to deal with that underlying problem.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline at Home

Although it is not recommended, it is possible to go through heroin withdrawal at home. If you plan to do this, it’s a good idea to have a loved one around to help you through the process.

They can help keep you from giving in to the cravings and make sure you get medical attention if there are complications.

Ask for a week off work before you go through this process, and stock up on supplies. You’ll need lots of fluids, healthy food, and hygiene necessities like toilet paper.

And once you’re through the initial withdrawal process, be sure you join some sort of support group or rehab to keep from relapsing in the next several months.

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Learn More About the Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Heroin withdrawal is a difficult process that you need help to get through. Knowing the heroin withdrawal timeline can help you know what to expect and how long things will last.

By the time you hit day four or five, knowing that these symptoms won’t last forever can help keep you motivated to push through.

If you’d like help detoxing from heroin, come see us at Pathfinders Recovery Center.

We have programs for heroin addiction, as well as methamphetamine addiction, prescription pill addiction, and alcoholism.

Contact us today to take the first step on your road to a happier, healthier life.

The Stigma Of Addiction: How Do I Break It?

What is Alcoholism?

In 1956, alcoholism was classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. The definition of a disease is “a quality, habit, or disposition regarded as adversely affecting a person or a group of people.”

The AMA’s conclusion is fitting to say the least. Today, alcoholism is a part of a much larger epidemic – the disease of addiction. Unlike physical ailments, alcohol addiction has become a serious societal issue, one plagued by stigmas and stereotypes. People often say, “Addicts are weak, they just need to toughen up and quit,” or, “Addicts are liars, burnouts and waste of space,” and “Addicts are bad people and criminals.”

All too often these types of judgmental statements are spoken. The purpose of this article is to give the reader a glimpse into what it is like to be an addict.


How Alcoholism Starts

stigma-of-alcoholismOutside circumstances vary drastically, but internally most addicts, including myself, have similar experiences although it can often feel like they’re the only one.

You’re introduced to a substance, you try it, and you like the way it makes you feel. In the beginning the substances make you feel euphoria, and for the potential addict, you just want to do it again. It’s a slow and gradual decline of one’s power of choice and into dependency.

 


Becoming An Addict

beginning-of-alcohol-addictionAs time goes on our tolerance for the substances gets greater. Leaving us needing more of our drug of choice in order to become intoxicated. So, what does any motivated addict do at this point?

More drugs and alcohol of course.

A non-addict may be able to anticipate what might happen if they continue down this path and decide to turn it around. This isn’t so with the real addict from our experience. What we see is delusions crop up, and from this altered reality we are able to find justifications for our actions.

Here is an example: a close friend of yours approaches you and says, “I think you should slow down with partying. I’m worried about you and you do not seem like yourself lately.” The non-addict’s thought process might lead to some introspection like, “Are they right? Am I getting carried away? Maybe I should take it easy for a while.” An addict on the other hand may say, “They don’t know what they’re talking about! I’m fine and if they can’t accept me for who I am, then I don’t need them in my life.” This defensiveness and sometimes anger comes quickly when someone challenges them or they think they may lose their drug, which is one reason so many addicts become alienated from the people in their lives. This cycle goes on until you have reached the no man’s land of dependency.


Active Full Blown Addiction

Once an addict has reached the stage of full-blown dependency, it is incredibly difficult to stop. When I was using, you could have given me a lie detector test and I would have been telling the truth when I said I believed to my core that there was no chance that I could stop.

The physiological make-up of my body had changed. This is true with all addicts. As a person in long term recovery, I wanted to get clean for years before I was actually able to make it stick. Allow me to emphasize the important part of that statement. I wanted to get clean for years.

When an addict feels like they can’t stop using, they often feel ashamed, weak and like a failure. Having the world say the same and worse, contributes to an addict’s need to detach from those feelings on some level, so they just keep using. Punishing and condemning addicts, bad mouthing them and judging them will never help this problem. It doesn’t help the addict, nor does it benefit the world as a whole as society continues to perpetuate the cycle. What is needed is an educated society that understands the issue and its complexities, and how best to approach it.


The Recovery Process

Since the founders of Pathfinders Recovery Center have been in recovery we have found that addicts, and people in general for that matter, are capable of great things. The same men and women that come from dark, selfish, and lonely pasts are now selfless and caring, with a unique compassion for their fellow man. One in ten adult people in this nation are struggling with some form of addiction, and only one in ten of those people get help. These statistics are staggering. This disease does not discriminate. There are politicians, lawyers, policemen, doctors, pilots, therapists, and all other professions. We are your neighbors, your friends, your pastor, and your child’s school teacher. Before judging and condemning addicts, please remember that these people you are talking about are sick. Very sick. The power of choice is more than likely no longer in their grasp. They need compassion and understanding. They need help, and to be shown there is a way out.

For more information and the science behind each chemical’s effect on the body view our earlier blog posts or contact a Pathfinders Recovery Center founder directly at (855) 728-4363.