I Want to Know If My Loved One Is Using Heroin

When you or a loved one struggles with a heroin addiction, it can be difficult to talk about. Oftentimes, people who experience a heroin addiction aren’t always honest about their Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and may even lack awareness themselves of how out of control their use has become. If you suspect that someone you care about is using heroin and want to know for sure, pay attention to their home, physical characteristics, and lifestyle habits, as they may begin to change.

At first, a heroin addiction may be hard to identify. However, over time, signs of their addiction can become more noticeable as the disease takes over the user’s life. Identifying the signs of heroin addiction is an important first step toward supporting your loved one with getting help. For this reason, it is crucial to understand the signs of heroin use.

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What Are the Signs Of Heroin Abuse?

When a person has an addiction to Heroin, their life will revolve around using the drug. Most individuals addicted to heroin become secretive and overly concerned about money and begin to neglect work and family obligations in order to use heroin or recover from using. There are numerous physical, behavioral, emotional, and psychological signs of heroin abuse that will let you know if they have an issue.

Physical Signs of Heroin Use

There are many physical signs of heroin use that may vary from individual to individual. Some signs will vary depending on the individual’s route of administration. For example, a person who uses heroin intravenously (IV) may display track marks on their arms and other parts of their body. Physical signs of heroin use relate to the body’s manifestation of side effects due to the presence of drugs in their system. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the following are some of the common short-term side effects that may occur after heroin use:

  • Frequent sedation
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Flushed skin
  • Frequent itching or picking of skin
  • Slowed heart rate (after the initial rush)
  • Drowsiness for hours
  • Heaviness of limbs
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Weight loss
  • Slurred, garbled, or incoherent speech
  • Infections or abscesses at injection site (for IV users)
  • For women, loss of menstrual cycle (amenorrhea)

Emotional And Psychological Signs Of Heroin Use

When a person is using heroin, there are various common emotional and psychological signs that occur. These signs are easily visible to others, and some are less visible. Signs may vary depending on the individual. However, common emotional and psychological signs of heroin abuse may include:

  • Clouded thinking
  • Disorientation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood-swings
  • Irritability/agitation
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Memory loss
  • Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Euphoria
  • Paranoia
  • Apathy or lack of motivation
  • Obsessive thoughts and cravings to use

Behavioral Signs Of Heroin Use

Behavioral signs of heroin addiction include visual signs, patterns, and changes that occur due to an individual putting their use of heroin first. Some common behavioral signs of heroin use include, but are not limited to:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, school, or with family and friends.
  • Frequent concern about finances, including frequently borrowing money from family or friends.
  • Being Secretive.
  • Sudden change of friends.
  • Loss of self-control.
  • Frequent tardiness or absenteeism at work, home, school, or social events.
  • Impulsivity.
  • Lifestyle changes or changes in behavior.
  • Social isolation.
  • Wearing long-sleeve shirts, even in warm weather, to hide track marks.
  • Hostility toward others.
  • Frequent dishonesty.
  • Presence of drug paraphernalia.
  • Periods of hyperactivity followed by periods of exhaustion.
  • Erratic behavior.
  • Legal trouble.
  • Decreased attention to hygiene and physical appearance.

If You Know Someone Is Using Heroin, Get Help Now

If you have concerns that a loved one has been using heroin, it is crucial to understand the various physical, emotional, psychological, and behavioral signs of heroin abuse. Not all heroin users will display the same signs and symptoms of use. However, the longer someone is using heroin, the more signs and symptoms will become present. Reach out to a treatment provider today to learn more about helping your loved one with getting help with heroin addiction today.

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Theresa Parisi, CAP

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  • Theresa Parisi is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) with over 12 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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