Nobody ever intends to become addicted to heroin. Instead, it happens incidentally as a person recreationally uses the drug. In fact, most individuals who suffer from heroin addiction don’t even realize they’ve become addicted until they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms between doses. But as heroin addiction causes profound changes in a person, it can be quite difficult for loved ones to witness an individual’s deterioration as a result of heroin addiction.
Although there’s no way to cure someone’s heroin addiction, there are surely ways to tell that he or she is struggling with a heroin problem. Many of the signs and behavioral cues of heroin addiction are easy to spot if you know where to look. If you have a loved one who may be suffering from heroin addiction, use the following signs, symptoms, and behaviors of heroin addiction to determine whether a drug problem is present.
Physical Health Effects
No matter how much or how little heroin a person uses, there are inevitably a number of physical and health effects that result from frequent heroin use. Of course, some of these effects depend on the individual’s route of administration, whether he or she is injecting the drug intravenously, inhaling the drug through the nose, smoking the drug, or ingesting the drug. And although some of these health effects can be difficult for others to detect, some of them are quite apparent when heroin addiction is present.
Visually, one of the most consistent cues for heroin addiction is constricted pupils; an individual who has just used heroin will exhibit extremely small, pinpoint-like pupils as a result of his or her heroin use. Additionally, many heroin users exhibit shortness of breath, dry mouth, lethargy and listlessness, and possibly general disorientation.
Difficulty Staying Awake
Although it’s technically considered an opioid, heroin also acts as a depressant on the body. This means that the individual’s energy level will significantly reduce and many bodily systems will function at a much lower level as a result of heroin use. To those around him or her, a heroin user will appear to have difficulty staying awake and conscious. At times, a heroin user might even fall asleep while sitting up or standing. This is called “nodding out” and is one of the most reliable behavioral traits resulting from frequent heroin use.
Flu-like Symptoms During Withdrawal
As an individual becomes dependent on heroin, he or she will find it increasingly unpleasant during those times when heroin isn’t available. The reason for this is because of withdrawal symptoms.
When a person uses heroin, the brain becomes saturated with the pain-reducing opioid, which binds to the brain’s opioid receptors to create the signature effects of heroin. Meanwhile, the brain is flooded with neurochemicals that create feelings of euphoria and pleasure. But when an individual who uses heroin frequently is unable to use heroin for a period of time, the brain experiences a deficit in those chemicals, causing withdrawal symptoms. By all appearances, heroin withdrawal looks like the flu with many similar symptoms. The individual will experience sniffles and runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, and an overall lack of energy. Additionally, he or she will often be irritable and easily agitated. Therefore, if the individual seems to intermittently and sometimes suddenly exhibit flu-like symptoms, it’s likely that he or she is suffering from heroin addiction and currently experiencing withdrawal.
Marks on the Arms and Body
There are several routes of administration for heroin, as mentioned above; however, the two most common are inhalation through the nasal passage and intravenous injection. Many heroin users start with the former before graduating to the use of hypodermic needles in an effort to achieve even greater effects from the heroin. Depending on whether the individual is a newer user or a more experienced user, he or she may show signs of intravenous heroin use in the form of bruise-like marks on the arms or elsewhere on the body. These marks are injection sites and are often reused over time as the bruise becomes a signal to the user, showing him or her where he or she had previously had success in finding a vein in which to inject the drug. With repeated usage, the marks become even more pronounced and larger as well as harder to hide. Therefore, if an individual appears to have dark circular bruises on the arms or elsewhere on the body, there’s a strong chance that he or she is using heroin intravenously.
Most people have particular interests and hobbies. However, with a heroin user, the drug takes an increasingly central position in his or her life, causing the individual to show less and less interest in things that he or she previously enjoyed. As such, the display of growing disinterest in previous passions, hobbies, pastimes, or even relationships could be seen as a possible sign that the individual has a heroin problem.
Dishonesty and Deceptive Behavior
It’s not a rule, but many individuals who suffer from heroin addiction exhibit dishonest and deceptive behavior with increasing frequency as the addiction becomes more severe. At the onset of a heroin habit, the individual may be using his or her existing income and resources to fund the drug use; however, as the habit becomes more severe and requires larger amounts of heroin, many users exhaust their existing incomes and must resort to devious behavior to maintain their heroin usage. This can result in theft and stealing from loved ones, whether it’s money or valuables.
Additionally, many users become dishonest in areas that may not relate to the funding of their drug use. For instance, a drug user may begin to leave the home suddenly and randomly, and they may make excuses to do so if these frequent trips involve procuring or using heroin. If they’re late or get into legal trouble, it’s likely that the individual will be dishonest about what led to his or her present circumstances. Therefore, if there’s evidence that the individual is being dishonest about his or her behaviors and activities, there’s a good chance that he or she is either suffering from heroin addiction or developing a heroin habit.
How Pinnacle Can Help
One of the most effective ways to beat addiction is to start recovery at an addiction treatment center. Pinnacle Treatment Center is a comprehensive program that addresses the root causes of addiction and how to overcome it. Pinnacle provides intensive therapy along with lectures and exercises for life skills and relapse prevention. Patients will be involved in group therapy sessions as well as 12-step groups like NA and AA. Pinnacle will even help manage aftercare planning to ensure their patients remain on the right path after treatment. A well-rounded program like this is the best way to start recovery today and take control of your life. Call us today at 1-866-301-0573.