Heroin is an opioid that many people use recreationally in order to feel the euphoric high that comes with it. Unfortunately, that brief high comes with devastating consequences, as more than 115 people in the US die every day of opioid overdose. This has led to a national health crisis since heroin abuse has increased. Anyone who suspects their loved one has been using heroin should learn the most common signs of addiction so they can get them help immediately. These are the main signs of recent and long-term heroin use.
Signs That Someone Recently Used Heroin
Heroin users typically display certain signs shortly after using the drug. Some signs friends and family members might notice include small pupils, confusion, and periods of alertness that are quickly followed by sudden drowsiness. Heroin users often also have dry mouth and shortness of breath right after they ingest the drug, and loved ones might hear them complain about these issues at some point. If so, these are some signs they have recently used the drug.
Signs That Someone Has Been Using Heroin for Awhile
Some symptoms of heroin use take weeks or months to show up, at least enough to be visible to other people. For instance, heroin users who inject the drug intravenously often develop track marks on their inner arms, since this is where they tend to inject it. However, they might also inject it elsewhere, which means they could have marks on their legs, hands, feet or groin. Other signs of long-term heroin use may include weight loss, a constantly runny nose, and cuts or scabs since heroin users often pick at their skin.
But some of the most obvious signs of heroin use aren’t necessarily physical. They may have more to do with a change in behavior that is obvious to friends and family. For example, many heroin users quit their normal social activities in order to do drugs or spend time recovering from the night before. As a result, they might stop spending time with friends or family, stop going to work or school, and start lying to cover up where they really were. They often also sleep more than usual and have a general lack of interest in anything that isn’t heroin.
Other behaviors that are common among heroin addicts include stealing money or valuables to buy drugs, hostility, and irritability toward loved ones, and a decrease in self-esteem. Friends and family members may also notice the heroin user avoids eye contact, slurs speech, and frequently wears clothing that covers track marks—even when it’s clearly too hot outside to be wearing long sleeves.
Items One Might Find with a Heroin Addict
Loved ones who are paying close attention will probably see evidence of drug use when they visit an addict’s home or get in their car. Some examples include plastic baggies with white residue, syringes or needles, and shoelaces or similar items that heroin addicts can use to tie off drug injection sites. Other items that heroin addicts may have lying around the house include used aluminum foil, straws or silver spoons that look burnt. They might also have one or more pipes used for smoking heroin.
If any loved ones show several of these signs of heroin use, it’s important to get help for them. That means getting them to a treatment center since heroin withdrawal is not only uncomfortable but can also be deadly. It’s critical that medical professionals be present during the withdrawal stage, as recovery can only begin once the heroin addict makes it successfully through this phase.