Heroin is a highly dangerous, addictive drug. The only way to overcome heroin addiction is with professional medical and psychological treatment. If you’re worried your loved one is addicted to heroin, don’t wait. Learn to recognize the signs of heroin addiction, and seek help right away if you spot them.
Frequent Flu-Like Symptoms
There are easily-identifiable physical symptoms that heroin users exhibit. For example, users may have constricted pupils a few hours after use. The drug is a downer, so they may also continue taking shallow breaths. However, some of these symptoms are easy to hide. Heroin users often go out of their way to conceal their substance abuse from loved ones.
The frequency of flu-like symptoms, however, is much harder to hide. A person addicted to heroin regularly has a runny nose, watering eyes, or a fever. These symptoms arise from heroin use, but if they appear frequently they could be a notable sign of addiction.
Secretiveness or Lying
Not all signs of a heroin addiction are physical. In fact, some of the most severe are emotional and behavioral. Often, a heroin addiction is accompanied by frequent lying.
Sometimes, secrecy is to protect loved ones. A heroin user might make excuses like working late or visiting friends. For example, a woman who uses might tell her son she can’t come to an important event, while unable to give firm reasons why.
Simply put, heroin addiction makes people prioritize drugs over friends and family. They might feel guilty, but continue lying. These behaviors get worse if heroin addiction starts causing severe life consequences.
Visible Track Marks
While there are many ways to consume heroin, intravenous injections are the most common. One way to tell your loved one is addicted to heroin is by looking for track marks. These are the injection sites that indicate intravenous heroin use. They look like linear scar tissue.
Track marks are most commonly on the arms. Needle marks and bruising, especially in the elbow crease, are an obvious warning. You may also notice skin problems, like abscesses, which result from heroin injections.
Collapsed veins occur when someone frequently injects in the same spot. Some heroin users resort to new injection spots when this happens. Therefore, many inject between the toes in order to hide addiction.
Changes in Career or Financial Stability
If your loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, then he or she is likely overwhelmed. Addiction is a disease that prevents you from focusing on anything but using. You can identify an addiction by noticing changes in your loved one’s career or financial stability.
Juggling a profession with a heroin addiction is virtually impossible. If your loved one loses their job or experiences an unexpected demotion, addiction is likely to blame.
Similarly, your loved one might be financially struggling. Heroin isn’t free, and the cost adds up. Combine that with no income, and an addiction quickly leads to bankruptcy.
Drug Paraphernalia and Slang
Another way to tell your loved one is addicted to heroin is by looking for drug paraphernalia. This depends on how your loved one uses heroin. However, the most common items include clear plastic bags, aluminum foil, syringes, and glass pipes.
You may want to listen for common heroin slang as well. Many heroin users avoid the name of the drug but use nicknames when discussing it with buyers, sellers, or users. These include junk, dope, smack, H, white, and black tar. Your loved one might also refer to using heroin as skin popping or chasing the dragon.
Presence of Drowsiness or Nodding
Heroin is a depressant. Using it slows heart rate, reaction times, and blood pressure. It also leads to “nodding,” where users are in and out of sleep during daily activities.
A person struggling with heroin addiction may have irregular sleep cycles. Heroin users may frequently seem like they’re falling asleep, but have a hard time getting actual rest. If you see chronic drowsiness, or the inability to stay awake mid-conversation, your loved one may be using heroin.
Changes in Social Interactions and Appearance
Using heroin changes personality in many ways. If your loved one is addicted to heroin, they may begin socially withdrawing. They may not want to spend time alone with you as well. Remember that this is a direct result of wanting to hide addiction.
You may also see changes to appearance. Weight loss and weight gain are the most common. Heroin users typically change their grooming and hygiene habits. If you notice these changes, heroin could be to blame.
If someone you love is addicted to heroin, you’ll need to get them professional treatment. With detox and rehab, it’s possible to overcome addiction and lead a fulfilling, healthy life.