Heroin is a highly addictive opioid and has been a big contributor to the opioid epidemic in recent years. It’s also a drug that many people are turning to in the midst of this pandemic. It may be difficult to tell if someone is abusing heroin right away, as they will likely be good at covering the tell-tale hints. But soon, their lives will revolve around the drug and odd behavior may become more apparent. The earlier you can recognize the signs of heroin abuse, the sooner you can seek help for your loved ones.
What Is Heroin Abuse?
Heroin is an opioid drug that is made from morphine. It is a powdery and crumbly substance that is often an off-white color, but can vary from white to darker colors such as brown. There is also black tar heroin, which is a black, sticky substance.
According to the CDC, more than two million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder, and about 130 Americans on average die every day from an opioid overdose. During the current pandemic, cities everywhere have been seeing a spike in heroin overdoses. With people stressed and out of work, it’s been easy for many to relapse. Compound that with homelessness, walk-in clinics being closed, and support groups not running.
Additionally, drug availability is limited as many people’s regular sources are not dealing during the pandemic. Users are now turning to people they don’t know which means they can’t be sure what it is exactly that they’re ingesting. All of this increases the probability of overdose.
Paraphernalia To Be Aware Of
There are multiple ways heroin can be ingested. It can be snorted, injected, or smoked. In most cases, paraphernalia is used to get high. If you find needles, pipes, spoons with lighters, rubber tubing, or elastic bands in your loved one’s room or home, it could be signs of heroin use.
Physical Symptoms You Might Notice
When heroin is injected, the high can be felt within seconds. Other methods take a little longer for the user to get high, but it is still rather quick.
Some common symptoms of heroin use include:
- Dry mouth
- Flushed skin
- Small pupils
- Nodding out (falling asleep suddenly and randomly)
- Clouded judgment
- Confusion or disorientation
- Slowed breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
The symptoms listed above usually follow the initial rush, which only lasts temporarily. Although you might not realize all of your loved one’s symptoms, nodding out, severe itching, and confusion are typically tell-tale signs that something is going on.
If someone is using heroin, you might begin to notice certain lifestyle changes.
- Lack of motivation and disinterest in old hobbies
- Secretive or withdrawn behavior
- Financial problems or borrowing money more often
- Changes in appearance such as dramatic weight loss
- Strained work or personal relationships
- Decline in health and hygiene upkeep
If someone is injecting the drug, they may wear long-sleeve clothing and long pants to hide their track marks or scars from needles, even in the warmest of months.
Medical Problems and Complications
Heroin abuse may result in long-term health problems that can be detrimental and potentially life-threatening. Long-term heroin use can damage organs, especially the kidneys, liver, or heart. The drug weakens the immune system, making users more likely to experience infections. If someone is sharing needles, they have the potential to contract infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. Injecting heroin can also result in collapsed veins.
Treating Heroin Abuse
If you start to notice these things happening more often, we encourage you to seek help for you or your loved one. It’s important to get help before developing a long-term addiction or potentially overdosing.
At DreamLife Recovery, it is our mission to help people overcome addiction. Through programs like detoxification and holistic therapy, we provide a safe, comfortable, and caring environment for recovery and teach you the tools necessary to stay clean.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a heroin addiction, contact our admissions team at DreamLife Recovery to start the road to a healthier life. Call (844) 402-2592 for a drug-free future.