Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use – Knowing What to Look For

heroin addict signs and symptomsHeroin users are rarely honest about the fact that they are using, abusing and quite possibly even addicted to heroin. Thus, if you are concerned about a family member, friend or another loved one who may be a heroin addict, asking them directly may not provide you with the real answer. You may have to play detective and look for clues, signs and symptoms of heroin use. Below are some signs and clues that may help you determine if your loved has become a heroin addict.

Heroin “Leftovers” or Remnants

Heroin can be snorted, injected or smoked. Those that use heroin are typically careful not to be caught but in many cases, traces of their heroin use has been left behind. Finding traces of a white or light brownish powdery substance (sometimes even dark brown or even a black, sticky tar-like substance) could be evidence that he/she is using. Finding syringes (or its wrapper), a small glass or metal pipes, a dirty spoon or a lighter left behind, rubber tubing or belts that may have been used on the arm to make veins more pronounced for injection may be additional signs.

Signs and Symptoms of a Heroin User

CarfentanilHeroin is a relatively fast acting opiate, especially when injected. Within seconds to minutes after heroin has been administered, feeling of euphoria come rushing in. But with this so called “positive” feeling comes a certain set of symptoms that can be spotted by family and friends if they know hat to look for.

A heroin addict / user will have a very dry mouth causing the need to drink fluids quickly and often. His or her skin will be flush. His or her pupils will be “pinned” or constricted (opposite of dilated). A heroin user may get “noddy” and thus, their head may droop downward, their eyes may close and only open part way while the user fades in and out of consciousness and speech may be slurred. Breathing is also slowed as is the heroin user’s heart-rate. Regrettably, this is how a heroin overdose kills – breathing and the heart slow down so much that it stops.

A heroin user’s thinking is often unclear and impulsive. They will often make excuses, make promises they can’t or won’t keep, they’re forgetful and their decision making and self-control skills deteriorate. If someone you love simply doesn’t seem like themselves anymore, they could be using heroin.

Other symptoms of heroin use and abuse include constant itching, nausea, vomiting, constipation, having a difficult time urinating, problems sleeping, etc.. They may experience skin or other infections due to a weakened immune system and make regular use of laxatives to help alleviate problems with defecation.

A heroin addict often loses weight, skin is pale, eyes and cheekbones are often sunken in and an overall appearance of sickly or ill becomes the norm.

Changes in Behavior

As already noted, someone who suffers from heroin addiction will behave very differently than usual.  They’ll often lie, cheat, manipulate and steal to get more heroin.  A heroin addict will regularly be out of money and even ask to borrow some, making up some lame excuse as to why they need it.  Anxiety and panicking becomes the norm when an addict is running out or has run out of heroin.  Heroin addicts are typically quick to anger and may even “flip out” over the smallest things.  Confronting them about their heroin use may also result in a tantrum and/or episodes of displayed anger.

Heroin Addiction is Serious and Often Requires Help

Getting Heroin HelpA heroin addict rarely acknowledges or even believes that they’ve become addicted.  More often than not, they will be in denial and tell the few people who even know (and themselves) that they are still in control and that they can stop anytime they want.  Meanwhile, you sit there wondering why they don’t’ “want” to stop when they’re literally losing all they’ve worked so hard for over the years.  Everything including their physical appearance, their job, their hard earned money, their possessions, solid relationships with people become damaged or destitute.  Their nutritional intake is reduced, their sleep patterns are affected and their arms may be covered with needle marks (if they inject).   Yet they don’t “want” to stop?

At some point, some men and women suffering from heroin addiction may actually ask for help.  However, many fear the dreaded withdrawal symptoms to come and as a result, continue using not because they are trying to get high, but to stay well and prevent becoming horribly sick.  But the time a heroin addict asks for help is when you’ll have the greatest chance to get them into a drug rehab or an addiction treatment center to jump-start their recovery.  Recognizing and ignoring a heroin user’s lies is the key to getting them the help they need and deserve.

If you are a loved one needs help getting clean, we are here to help.  Please feel free to contact us or contact one of our recommended addiction treatment centers for more information.  Addiction may not be curable but it is treatable and the person you know and love can and will return with proper treatment.

Written and Published By,

William – Publisher and Founder of Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide™
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8 thoughts on “Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use – Knowing What to Look For

  1. My son is an heroin addict. The truth is not in him. He struggles trying to get and stay clean but fails. Is there a site for those of us who are family … hurting, angry lost, scared. I am 71 and never thought I would be in this at my age.

  2. My mother in law is a heroin addict she keeps getting these horrible abcess and other skin infections she claims they are bug bites and excema and constantly lies saying she quit. We know better and she knows we do but she is not going to stop on her own and we cant force her interventions cost an outrageous 6000 and we cant come close to paying it. Is she just lost or does anyone have a idea for me to try maybe

    • Danae,

      Thank you for taking the time to post and share. I’m sorry to hear about your mother in-law. A lot of people verbally express some kind of desire to quit using heroin but they’ll often make excuses as to why they can’t do it today and will put it off until tomorrow. I’m not surprised that she’s having skin related issues. Heroin literally rots the body from the inside out and after consistent, long term use, the effects of heroin are often noticeable on the outside. Skin problems, sunken in eyes and cheeks, a pale complexion, weight loss, etc. are just a few of the regular symptoms heroin addicts experience on the outside.

      If she truly wants help, there are affordable treatment options, some are even free. I recommend reading the article we wrote called “Affordable Heroin Treatment Options” which may help your mother in-law get started. However, only people who are truly willing and ready to get clean and dedicate themselves to it can really be helped. Otherwise, as soon as they complete their initial heroin addiction treatment program, they are likely to go back to using.

      Please keep us posted.

      William – Publisher of this Community

  3. Thank God, I live in Kentucky my daughter is an ER nurse ,For the last 2 years the ER has been packed with heroin over doses and deaths ,Our state has free needle exchanges which I personally don’t agree with. Now there is killer heroin on our streets heroin mixed with fentanyl the state has issued a warning because in the last week the heroin over doses have tripled and with the Labor Day Weekend starting tomorrow they are telling the hospital’s to have extra supplies and staff by tomorrow ,Addict’s are shooting up in hospital parking lot’s and in er restrooms and waiting rooms and leaving needles and baggies ,tubing ,spoons lighters etch….. in parking lots and restrooms This crap is deadly it’s an epidemic a danger not only to the addict but to the community children fourth and fifth graders admit to using heroin It seems if the addicts have enough since to know to use it in a safe place they should have the since Togo to rehap ,The police arrest them the judges let them walk with is wrong with people I’m 54 years old and can honestly say I’ve never had a monkey on my back why can’t they just say no I have lost family members, friends ,neighbors good people rich and poor folks that I know for a fact are smart enough to just say no and I don’t believe in. Addiction they know better . don’t understand and will never understand All they gotta say is no they know before they do it for the first time what the outcome is gonna be

  4. When my son was using, he would nod off mid conversation while standing. He sweated a lot. His bedroom and vehicle smelled like burnt vinegar. I couldn’t figure out the smell until it was explained to me in a support group.

  5. Pingback: Dangers of Putting Off Addiction Treatment - Is It Just That Simple? - Kill the Heroin Epidemic Nationwide

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