People who become addicted to opioid pain relievers often seek out heroin as a more cost-efficient alternative when they are unable to obtain their particular painkiller of choice. Per the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, it’s estimated that 9.2 million Americans abuse heroin. Even the teen population is seeing an increase in the number of individuals who abuse heroin.
Since the long-term effects of heroin abuse are severe, and overdose is a possibility every time heroin is used, it’s vital for parents, significant others, friends, and family members to become aware of the signs of heroin abuse. Early intervention is the best way to ensure the optimal chances of successful recovery from heroin abuse.
What Are the Signs of Heroin Abuse?
Heroin gives users a euphoric effect, promoting a sense of calm and bliss. The drug slows thought processes, causing users to move or talk slowly or even mumble. They may also slur their speech.
Heroin users may become sleepy or fall asleep randomly, which is referred to as going “on the nod.” They may have a runny or itchy nose as well.
Confusion and disorientation are associated with heroin abuse. Appetite loss is common, and users often lose weight due to a decreased desire to eat. Those who inject the substance may have marks on their arms where they insert needles, which are known as “track marks.” They may also have scabs or sores where they have picked at their skin. Additionally, users could exhibit the following signs of heroin abuse:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Sleepy-looking eyes
- Slowed breathing
- Flushed skin
What Does Heroin Paraphernalia Look Like?
Heroin can be snorted, so a user could have rolled-up dollar bills or pieces of paper lying around; short straws are also used to snort the drug. Users may use foil or pipes to smoke heroin. If injected, users may leave a syringe or burnt spoon lying around. In order to make the veins more prominent, people often use rubber tubing or a tourniquet.
Heroin often comes in tiny baggies, so the presence of empty plastic bags with white, tan, or dark brown residue in them can be a sign of heroin abuse. Black tar heroin is a sticky, almost black substance, and users may leave this residue on surfaces where the drug is used.
What Are Signs of Heroin Addiction?
As heroin is an incredibly addictive drug, signs of abuse and addiction often become clear to loved ones. Signs of heroin addiction include odd sleeping patterns and significant weight loss. Those who inject heroin may try to hide needle marks by wearing long sleeves even when the weather is hot outside. Since heroin causes constipation, users may complain of stomach pains or use laxatives frequently.
As heroin use continues, individuals may become secretive or lie frequently to cover for their whereabouts when they are using the drug. Since they spend increasingly more money on heroin, they generally start neglecting bills and incur debt. Eventually, a person using heroin may stop going to work or attending school in favor of using the drug. With a lack of income, the person may steal or engage in other criminal activity to obtain more heroin.
Physical appearance rapidly begins to suffer, as personal hygiene is neglected. Nausea and vomiting are common in those who abuse heroin, especially when they start going through withdrawal. Other symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Dilated pupils
Again, since heroin is such a damaging and addictive drug, the signs of heroin abuse eventually become quite evident to onlookers.