Signs of Heroin Use and Addiction
Addiction is complicated and the path to heroin use can begin with pain pills, either through self-medication or a legitimate prescription. Often, a person is prescribed vicodin, oxycontin, or other opioids after an injury, surgery or dental work. Once a person taking prescription pain pills experiences the euphoria produced by narcotic pain medication, the craving to continue taking it can lead to addiction.
We hear so many stories that begin with pain medication and end with IV drug use. Addiction doesn’t play favorites. It affects every people group and crosses all professional and socio-economic boundaries. In the past 10 years, heroin use and addiction in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 has doubled, mainly due to the strict guidelines on prescription opioids.
Individuals struggling with heroin use need professional treatment, but some don’t realize help is available until a loved one presents them with the option. If you think your loved one might be using heroin, there are specific signs you can look for.
Warning Signs of Heroin Use in Your Loved Ones
Signs of Heroin Use on the Body
- Track Marks – There are different methods of use, which we detail in another article, but one of the signs of IV (or intravenous) heroin use are track marks, which can range from light red or pink dots to darker purplish dots that can look like bruises or sores. Track marks are most often seen on the arms, legs, hands or neck; anywhere there are veins.Initially, track marks can be almost invisible, but with repeated use, veins begin to collapse or infections form causing the marks.
- Pin Sized Pupils
- Cold Symptoms– Every time you see them, they have a runny nose, fever, or are just getting over the flu. They brush it off, ‘It’s just a cold… I just can’t shake it.’ Sometimes they’ll even ask for money to go to the doctor or purchase medicine, yet they still have the symptoms the next time you see them. Watery eyes, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and fever are all part of opiate withdrawal, which can begin within several hours after the last dose.
Signs of Heroin Use: Paraphernalia
Heroin isn’t always injected, so there are a lot of different items connected to heroin use:
- Hypodermic Needle – connected to IV drug use or to inject into the muscle
- Cotton Balls – are used to strain the liquid heroin from anything that didn’t melt
- Small Baggies, Wax Paper Squares with or without imprints on them, Pill Caps, Small Vials – all used for heroin packaging and sale
- Spoons or Bottle Caps – are used to cook the drug, turning the tar or powdered heroin into liquid for injection
- Tie-off – belt, shoelace, bandana or anything that can be used to change blood flow to make veins more visible
- Lighters – used for turning the heroin into a liquid
- Aluminum foil – used when smoking heroin
- Straws – used when snorting heroin
- Pipe or Rolling Papers – used for smoking heroin
Other Signs of Heroin Use
- Extensive Bathroom Time – Often, a heroin user will need to use while others are home. Since the bathroom is one of the only places where a locked door isn’t a cause for suspicion, this is one place where drug use may be occurring in your home. If your loved one is suddenly taking long “baths” every day or disappearing to the bathroom and not returning for long periods of time, they could be using in the bathroom.
- Nodding Out – Having trouble keeping his or her eyes open while sitting up or while having a conversation with you is one of the most prevalent signs of heroin use and is actually one step away from overdose.
- Long Sleeve Shirts – Wearing long sleeves, even in summer.
- Changes in Hygiene – Not bathing, decline in basic hygiene, not changing clothes.
Getting Help for Your Loved One
You can recover from heroin addiction. Gracious Care Recovery Solutions offers safe, medical detox and addiction treatment that gets to the root cause of addiction. We provide the tools necessary to live a life free from addiction so you don’t have to live each day struggling to stay clean.
If you or someone you love is struggling, start the recovery process today. Our addiction professionals are ready to help you live the life you deserve.