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 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.

Gratitude: How to Remain Grateful

Gratitude:

The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.


Someone recently messaged us at Pathfinders Recovery Center and asked for a blog on the topic of gratitude. We thought to ourselves, “that is a great idea,” especially considering gratitude is so essential in everyday life and our in level of happiness. It is so easy after some time sober to ‘let the shine wear off’, but here are some tips and tricks we use to better our attitudes daily at Pathfinders Recovery Center that really work!

For starters to establish a little credibility let us take a quick look at the research. The results of an 8-year study from The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley indicated that a regular and continuous gratitude practice results in the following benefits:

  • Progress towards important personal goals
  • Higher alertness and longer attention span
  • Increased determination and Energy levels
  • Greater Sense of feeling connected to others
  • Better all-around health
  • Quality and duration of sleep were increased
  • Higher levels of self-discipline

Here are some methods we use as daily gratitude exercises that have really worked for us.

Get A Journal And Dedicate It To Gratitude

addiction-recovery-tips

Jot down 3 things that you truly feel grateful for. This will not work if you don’t take a minute or two in between each entry to really internalize and feel the gratitude for these things on an emotional level. This will also only work and last if you do the exercise daily (we challenge you to do this for 2 weeks).

Remember Where You Came From

Typically, alcoholics and drug addicts have been to some of the darkest and loneliest places that anyone could imagine. Therefore, when some time in recovery passes and we start getting things back in the monetary and spiritual sense (i.e. car, home, good job, relationship, happiness, confidence which are all good). It is extremely easy to forget where we came from by becoming complacent and comfortable and no longer prioritizing our recovery or connections with other people. This does not serve us well for the long term.

Remaining humble is key, and realizing that you are always 100 percent capable of going back to the dark lonely place that we come from.  Not to live in fear, but to remain humble and level headed is the goal here.

Set Goals And Act On Them

One thing we’ve often noticed in this field is that people are happy typically have a goal, a hobby they LOVE, or something positive to direct their energy towards that no one can take away from them. The opposite appears true in our experience as well.  We must be honest with ourselves and set some small goals, and some big goals as well, and start taking baby steps on a daily basis to chase our dreams. Do not let yourself get too comfortable; this is a natural state that we gravitate towards, and our growth stops when we are too comfortable and complacent. The magic happens outside of our comfort zone and that goes for people of all walks of life and every stage of spiritual and emotional development.

Serve Others And Socialize With Like Minded People

addiction-treatment-helpThe most rewarding times in our lives are when we can truly step out of ourselves. To show up for another person in a capacity that makes their life better in some way is incredible. Drug addicts like us have taken enough from this world during active addiction, and it is a phenomenal feeling to give something back. Also, surround yourself with people that bring positivity and love into your life. Negative influences can deeply affect your level of happiness, so we highly recommend surrounding yourself with people who share your goals and are willing to take actions with you toward generating real happiness; we do not do this thing called recovery alone!

The Heroin Effect Of The Mind & Body

Heroin Use Today

Heroin is an opioid, first synthesized and sold in the late 1800’s. Like other opioids, heroin has a calming affect on the body, used as an antidepressant and a painkiller. Opioids have been used for centuries to provide relief from pain beginning in Egypt before making their way to Europe and India.

Derived from opium poppy sap, opioids can be found in the form of powder, tablets, pills, syrups and capsules. Heroin is typically sold in a powder that is most commonly injected, but can also be snorted smoked or sniffed. It is one of the most addictive substances on the market, which is why it is the most deadly. It has become one of the most widely used drugs amongst users worldwide with statistics rising everyday.

In the United States, heroin addiction has become an epidemic. In our country alone there are currently over one million heroin users across the nation. This startling number is five times what it was in 2000, increasing at a dramatic, unprecedented rate. Over 10,000 individuals die of a heroin overdose every year, which accounts for roughly 60% of all drug related deaths. In the past, most of the country’s heroin use was confined to urban areas. This is no longer the case as heroin addiction has spiked in suburban and rural communities, as well.

It is important for all of use to be educated about heroin addiction and how to deal with the issues that have risen because of our country’s epidemic. We must be armed with the facts about heroin abuse to start combating the problem and making headway towards a solution for the future. This article is intended to inform others on exactly how heroin addiction affects the mind and body of a drug addict. We will be discuss, explain and explore dopamine, opiate receptors, and the symptoms and side effects of heroin addiction.

effects-of-heroin-addiction

Key Concepts in Opioid Addiction

Opioids are a group of drugs that have been and are still used for medical purposes across the globe. Morpheme and codeine are common opiates that are prescribed to alleviate pain after surgery and to combat the side effects of certain illnesses. These are the key concepts that allow heroin alter our physical and mental states:

Dopamine – A neurotransmitter that controls emotions, motivation, movement and pleasure and plays a major role in reward based systems. Certain drugs, like heroin, produce excess amounts of dopamine in the brain. This dramatic increase in a feeling of euphoria is what keeps addicts coming back for more. The brain is rewarded with a spike in dopamine when a an addict is using heroin, causing it to crave the drug to produce another high.

Opioid receptors – A group of receptors in the brain with opioids as ligands, a molecule that binds to another. When opiates attach to the group of receptors, the brain sends signals to block pain and other senses related to emotion. The result is slower breathing and a calming feeling.

Opiates and Opioids – Alkaloid compounds naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Psychoactive compounds are found in opiates that trigger different sensations in the brain and body.

GABA – A Neurotransmitter that plays an important role in anxiety and more. Typically, GABA inhibits the amount of dopamine that is released in the brain. However, the use of opioids prevents GABA from working properly, allowing excess amounts of dopamine to be produced when heroin is in the system.

What Happens To Our Bodies When We Use Heroin?

When heroin is introduced into the bloodstream it travels to our brain and attaches itself to the opiate receptors in the cortex. What happens next? Our bodies produce dopamine in excess and our brain becomes flooded with the neurotransmitter. We experience an intense feeling of euphoria and pleasure, rewarding our brain for using the heroin. Opioid abuse also decreases our level of GABA. Low levels of this neurotransmitter are linked to irregular sleep patterns, depression, excessive stress, and anxiety. Because GABA is involved in the slowing of dopamine release, without this key component dopamine is produced in higher levels.

During my heroin addiction, the drugs made me not have a care in the world. I felt euphoria every time I was using and I couldn’t be brought down from the high that I felt. The grass looked greener and the sky looked bluer. Prolonged heroin use leads us to this state of being.

What are the Signs of a Heroin Addiction?

Sometimes people are unaware of the signs to look for in other people who may be struggling with a heroin addiction. There are many physical and psychological changes that you may notice a person abusing heroin. These include:

  • Flushed skin
  • Nasea
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times and places
  • Lack of interest in activities, like school and work
  • Increased lying and secretiveness
  • Poor hygiene
  • Trying to hide body parts
  • Refusing to eat at all
  • Injection marks on the skin

What Are Some Side Effects Of Heroin?

The are many side effects of heroin use that keep heroin addicts using. When the body is not under the influence of the drug, the side effects worsen on an even greater scale. The body begins to go into withdrawal just hours after last use, keeping addicts coming back for more and more.

Here are some short-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Decreased heart rate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itchy skin
  • Confusion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cold sweats
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting

What are the Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction?

Over time, continuous heroin abuse results in a decreased number of opioid receptors in the brain, which can lead to more serious issues and even death. After repeated use, our brain becomes custom to being under the influence of heroin and our tolerance decreases. Soon it takes more heroin to feel the same amount of pleasure as before. We feel as though must increase our dosage to experience any form of a high. This is what people often call “chasing the dragon.” It is trying to experience the high that we once had and being unable to achieve it. Your brain’s chemistry quite literally changes and you are unable to achieve the same effects with the same dose. Dr. Steven Dewey, a prominent addictions specialist, calls heroin addiction an organic brain disease. Dr. Dewey explains, “I’ve never seen a drug explode on the scene as much as opiates have.”

Here are some long-term effects of heroin abuse:

  • Hepatitis and HIV caused by use of unhygienic injections (i.e. dirty needles)
  • Pulmonary Edema (fluid in the lungs)
  • Decreased bowel motility
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired immune system
  • Poor dental health
  • Decreased sexual function
  • Open wounds, scabs and scars
  • Coma
  • Dealth

At the end of my heroin addiction in 2010, I could not get high and had to use to not feel extremely sick. This is a very dark place to arrive at, but it is darkest before the dawn!

heroin-addiction-signs

What Keeps Heroin Addicts Using?

A while into abusing opiates, us addicts experience withdrawal when our body is not flooded with dopamine and the chemicals are leaving our bodies. These withdrawal symptoms can be painful and unpleasant which is why so many addicts continue to use. They want to avoid what they know will come when the heroin runs out. As difficult as it may be, a safe, effective, medical detox is necessary to move forward with a healthy, happy and sober life.

Some symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Extreme cravings
  • Depression
  • Body aches
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Sweats
  • Racing heart
  • Hypertension
  • Fevers
  • & More…

I’ve been there and I needed help to get sober. I would not have made it if it wasn’t for the group of people and support system that guided me through my early recovery.

There is a way out. At Pathfinders Recovery Center, you will meet the owners including myself on the first day of arrival, and throughout your stay you will receive the individual time and attention you deserve. Please call or message us if you or a loved one is struggling. Addiction is literally a matter of life and death. We are here 24 hours a day to help.

10 Defeating Attitudes in Early Sobriety and How To Combat Them

Getting sober is one of, if not the hardest thing that us addicts will ever have to do. The journey to long term recovery is a hard one, often bumpy and filled with difficult personal and emotional challenges. Here are some thoughts and belief systems that commonly come up for us amongst early sobriety to be aware of, watch out for, and discard when they creep in!

1. The Non Sober People Are More Fun

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Addicts in general, myself included spend our time trying to do WHATEVER we can to “feel good” in the moment.  Sometimes life is not going to feel good and that is when we do not know how to handle it. That being said, the guys and gals that are goofing off, not working on themselves and acting out in negative self-defeating behaviors may appear to be having more fun…but talk to them when they relapse, get arrested, or end up back in treatment or at a 12-step meeting getting another new comer chip and ask yourself if that looks like fun? No judgement here, the thing is nothing changes until something changes and you must do things you have never done to get where you have never been period – simple as that.

2. I Am Not Ready To Be Sober Yet

You have hit your bottom once you have quit digging. Some people lose everything, die, get locked up ect…some other people end up realizing it much quicker and don’t lose much but can see where their life is heading and make the effort to change it quicker. So please don’t let your mind give you this excuse, it’s not true!

3. This Won’t Work For Me

Here is the thing…how can we know something that we don’t know…we can’t. Just because my mind is telling me that I know something does not mean it’s true. Find a mentor that has been where you’ve been and be open minded to having a new experience. Do what they say and great things will follow.

4. I’m Unique and Worse Than Everyone

This one always gives me a laugh because I can relate so strongly. Almost every addict I’ve had the pleasure of working with at one point or another experiences this thought. I have found out that I am not special or different and when I look for similarities instead of differences I can relate to some people I would never have expected to be able to.

5. I can do this on my own

In my experience this was not true. However, I will say if you truly believe that you can give it a try. If it doesn’t work, then try a treatment center and entering into a 12-step program.

6. Thinking The Answer is on the Outside, Not on the Inside

I need to quit smoking, get a job, enroll in college…TODAY !”. Relax, Rome wasn’t built in a day and we have to crawl before we can walk. You do not have to conquer all of your problems today. Keep it simple and make small realistic goals for yourself and overtime the upheaval and redemption of your life will be astonishing! Give yourself some time to really work on you in the beginning the rest will follow.

7. I Don’t Deserve A Better Life

This is not true for anyone – ever. Period. There is a little bit of good in the worst of us and a little bit of bad in the best of us. Take it easy on yourself, learn to forgive and love yourself. This is a process that is difficult and takes time but I promise you can do it and we will love you until you love yourself!

8. Nobody Cares About Me Anyway

I felt this way coming into recovery and what I found was the exact opposite. It was amazing how many people put their hand out to help me when all I did was simply become willing and ask for the help.

9. I’ve Tried Everything And Nothing Has Worked

No one has tried everything. There are variables to consider here. For instance, something I may have “tried” could work if I changed my perspective, applied myself and engaged in it with an open mind if I was closed off the first time. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective.

10. I will control my use… it will be different this time!

If you are really an addict or alcoholic your own experience is the best test here.  Did you ever “just do one”?  Were you able to easily stop all substances at once at any time without any difficulty?  If you’re truly an addict or alcoholic all you have to do is be honest with yourself and reflect on your experience to see that this not true.  You’re not alone here we have all fallen victim to this way of thinking and it keeps us in addiction much longer than necessary.