Heroin is an extremely powerful and addictive drug. A member of the opiate family of substances, it is known for its ability to bring about intensely pleasurable feelings when consumed, including a relaxed and sustained sense of euphoria and removal of pain.
Key signs and symptoms of heroin addiction and use
There are a variety of symptoms of a person using heroin or being high at the time. Here are ten common signs of heroin use.
Exhaustion and lethargy:
Heroin use usually causes the individual to ‘nod’, wherein they appear to be on the cusp of falling asleep and have little energy to talk or move. Nodding specifically refers to the individual appearing to fall forward as if asleep before catching themselves.
A person using heroin will exhibit a lack of mental acuity and clarity. Decision making is difficult, and they may appear unconcerned with their environment.
Heroin use takes a severe toll on a users mental health and physical wellbeing. As is the case with any addiction, the individual is likely to withdraw from social circles and obligations as their drug use becomes ever more important in their life.
Heroin addiction often causes symptoms similar to those of the flu, such as sweating, fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. This is often accompanied by watery eyes and a runny nose. Usually, these are withdrawal symptoms. When a person stops using the effects of heroin wear off and their body suddenly loses a chemical it has become dependant on.
One of the more common symptoms of heroin addiction is significant and unintended weight loss. This is partly due to the lowering of appetite and drive to perform physical actions when under the substance but may also be attributed to an increasing lack of self-care that often accompanies addiction.
Heroin addiction comes with a great deal of guilt. Users feel shame for using or their actions when they were high. Then to deal with the negative emotions they have to take heroin again.
Confusion or impaired concentration:
A key symptom of heroin addiction is the loss of mental acuity. It is one of the most obvious physical symptoms as users struggle with simple tasks and questions and may even find it hard to remain fully conscious. Heroin users losing consciousness can be especially dangerous as it could be a sign of a heroin overdose.
Bruising or scabbing of the skin:
One of the most common symptoms of heroin addiction are track marks. These are the marks from users repeatedly injecting the drug. With proper addiction treatment, these can heal but as long as someone is injecting regularly they are likely to have this problem.
Strained or broken relationships:
When someone is under the effects of heroin they are not thinking about how to cultivate relationships, they only care about when they can next use heroin. This can make them selfish, manipulative or just distant. Their addiction will also drive them to take advantage of friends if it means they can get more heroin.
People who use heroin break the law whenever they feed their heroin addiction. Heroin abuse is only the start of the legal troubles though. Many users drive under the influence or commit crimes either to get more heroin or simply because they are in an altered state of consciousness. withdrawal symptoms can also push a heroin user to breast the law. They may feel so terrible that stealing or committing another crime to get a fix seems like a small price to pay to stop their suffering.
If you recognise any of these signs, it is time to look into treatment. Help Me Stop offers great treatment options for anyone who is struggling with heroin addiction.
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the dangers and consequences of heroin use?
Sustained heroin use is extremely dangerous. It is an exceptionally addictive substance, and the drive to consume more once hooked on the drug usually consumes a person’s life. A person addicted to heroin is likely to steadily withdraw from social circles and may begin having troubles with the law. It is common to see a person addicted to heroin sell their assets and belongings in an effort to do all they can to score more of the substance.
As heroin is often consumed using needles that are injected into the bloodstream, there is significant danger in the form of second-hand or unhygienic needle use. Consequences of this include catching Hepatitis B and C, HIV and instances of gangrene, infections and ulcers around injection sites.
Due to heroin being illegal and very powerful, overdoses are also a significant risk. Heroin tolerance often leads users to overdose after having taken a break from the substance, wherein they consume much more than their body had re-adjusted to taking. These overdoses can be fatal. We have more information on heroin and its negative effects on our facts page.
How can families recognise heroin use?
The above symptoms can help you to spot heroin use when it occurs. While there is no standard picture of addiction, it is usually the case that there is a general spiral into addiction wherein a person withdraws from society and friends and increasingly neglects themselves.
How can you help someone addicted to heroin?
If you are concerned about your own heroin use or that of a loved one, please get in touch with the Help Me Stop team immediately. You can call us at no obligation.