Signs of Heroin Use

Signs of Heroin Use
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Among the possible illicit drugs out there, heroin is one of the most addictive and deadly. The drug gives users a feeling of well-being, joy and pleasure, which leaves the users wanting more. Heroin use leads to serious health problems and can be life-threatening sometimes. Unfortunately, it is tough to know if someone is using heroin. That’s because the symptoms of heroin use can be subtle, especially when the drug users want to hide what they are doing. This article can help you spot the signs of heroin addiction.

Signs of Heroin Use

The signs of use become more obvious as time goes on. Here’s what to look for.

Behavioral Symptoms

Physical Symptoms

Cognitive Symptoms

Psychosocial Symptoms

  • Neglecting chores and other responsibilities
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Skipping school
  • Sudden drop in grades
  • Secretive behaviors
  • A sudden need for more money with no explanation
  • Changes in friends and social circles
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants during warm weather
  • Legal problems
  • Slower breathing
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Tremors
  • Impaired coordination
  • Changes in eating
  • Weight loss
  • More sleeping
  • Nodding off suddenly
  • Unusual odor
  • Lethargy
  • Itching
  • Persistent coughing
  • Small burns on hands or fingers
  • Compromised problem-solving ability
  • Disorientation
  • Confusion
  • Self-control issues
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Inability to pay attention or focus
  • Decreased ability to make decisions
  • Euphoria
  • Irritability or anger
  • Paranoia or anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sudden fearfulness
  • Severe mood swings
  • Unexplained changes in attitude and personality
  • Lack of motivation

Paraphernalia Symptoms

Apart from the symptoms listed above, signs of heroin use can also be detected from the following paraphernalia around the house.

Signs of Snorting Heroin

Signs of Smoking Heroin

Signs of Injecting Heroin

  • Small baggies found in trash
  • Powder residue on the face, particularly around the nose and mouth
  • Sores around the mouth
  • A pipe or other material that might be used to smoke something
  • Rubber tubing or shoelaces
  • Missing spoons
  • Spoons that have been burnt or bent
  • Syringes, needles and other IV paraphernalia
  • Needle tracks or marks

The Dangers of Heroin Use

Dangers of using heroin include both short-term and long-term effects, both of which can be deadly. Some common dangers include:

  • Infections that come from blood-borne sources, such as hepatitis or HIV
  • Skin infections at the site of injection
  • Trouble with breathing, pulmonary diseases or pneumonia
  • Necrotizing fasciitis, a fast-moving and lethal infection that kills bodily tissues
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Seizures
  • An inability to care for themselves, including personal hygiene and related issues
  • Pericarditis,atherosclerosis and endocarditis
  • Sudden cardiac issues, such as heart attack, stroke
  • Falling into a coma
  • Sudden death from overdose or heart complications
  • Possible poisoning from chemicals in the heroin
  • Chronic constipation

How to Treat Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is very tough to fight, so getting treatment at the first signs of heroin use is an absolute must. The following are the most common treatments:

1. Pharmacological Treatment

Stopping heroin can cause significant withdrawal symptoms. Medications can be used to fight these symptoms and help keep users from going back to heroin.

  • ŸMethadone. This drug is taken orally and helps give users a slower high while preventing withdrawal symptoms. It is dispensed on a daily basis and can be used to help heroin users ‘step down’ from the heroin use.
  • ŸBuprenorphine. This relieves the cravings but does not produce a high. When injected, this medication can induce withdrawal symptoms. But the symptoms can be avoided when the medication is taken orally.
  • Naltrexone. This drug is not addictive or sedating. It blocks the action of opioids and doesn’t foster dependency. However, many patients often have trouble complying with this medication.

2. Behavioral Therapies

Used in conjunction with medications, behavioral therapiesprove to be very effective. Behavioral therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapyand contingency management.The former one is to modify the patient’s expectations and behaviors and to learn skills in coping with various life stressors. The latter one is to award patients who have negative drug tests.

Experience Sharing

My son is using heroin. I had no idea he had been an addict for three years! There was no difference in the way he acted, he was never sick, he had no financial problems, nothing! He showed no signs of heroin use. I had no idea what was coming. He finally told me when I discovered all sorts of paraphernalia in his home. He’s 30 years old.

I got help for my daughter the day she told me about her addiction. I had wondered if something was going on, but she finally told me because she was going to have to take a drug test at work and she knew she would get fired. The withdrawal symptoms she went through were unbearable–she was in so much pain. She had to go into in-patient treatment in order to get through it.

I am really praying that my son will not relapse. But I have gone to enough Narcotics Anonymous meetings to know that he might. He has been craving it quite a bit, and the doctor has stepped up his medication to try and combat that, but I don’t think it’s physical–I think it’s an emotional craving. What can I do for him?