Heroin addiction is something no one can prepare for, especially when it is one of your loved ones who has fallen into heroin’s grasp. The majority of the time, family members have no idea that their son, sister, mother, or husband have becoming addicted to heroin until something drastic happens, like an overdose or a run-in with the law.
Whether you want to know what to look for in a new heroin addict or are worried a loved one may relapse, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction. Often, they can be subtle, but the earlier you can find them, the better. That way, you can get your loved one the help they need before it gets to be too late.
About Heroin Addiction
About ¾ of heroin addicts start by getting hooked on prescription painkillers. Usually, this happens when they get a script from a doctor or get pills from friends or family members. Many pharmaceutical drugs are opiates – in the same family as heroin. So, when the script runs out, it is often easier and cheaper for addicts to turn to heroin.
Heroin is dangerous and carries a high risk of overdose. That risk is especially bad because drug dealers often mix or “cut” heroin with other drugs like fentanyl, which can be toxic with just a small dose. The user has no idea what they are ingesting until it is too late. Heroin users can snort, smoke, or inject the drug, with most people starting my sniffing it and smoking it and eventually graduating to injecting it, which also carries the risk of bloodborne infections from shared needles.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
First things first, trust your intuition. If you think someone you love may be using drugs, then follow your gut instinct. When looking for signs of heroin addiction, there are a number of things you might find.
Heroin is a powdery substance, ranging from white to brown in color. You might find baggies with residue laying around, or residue found on hard surfaces from snorting lines. If the person is injecting it, you might find hypodermic needles, syringes, spoons, lighters, and cotton laying around.
Personality & Physical Symptoms
A person who is doing heroin usually has a burst of unnatural energy where they get super involved in something like cleaning in an almost obsessive-compulsive fashion. This is then followed by a period of nodding out, where their eyes droop closed and they may fall asleep sitting up. If you look closely at their eyes, they generally appear red and their pupils will be very, very small. The person may appear twitchy, scratching their face and body.
If they are snorting heroin, they may experience nose bleeds and you may observe a powdery substance around their nostril. If they are shooting heroin, look for track marks near their veins. Often, a heroin user will wear long sleeved shirts to hide these obvious markings.
If you suspect that heroin addiction has gotten a hold of someone you love, it is important to talk to them. Make sure you approach them calmly and with compassion, otherwise they might feel like they are being attacked which will cause them to immediately shut down. Often, heroin user doesn’t want to be where they are but simply don’t know how to get out of it on their own. Having someone on their side can help them tremendously.
Heroin addiction is frightening but can be overcome with professional help and plenty of support.