Medical professionals categorize addiction as a chronic disease. That definition extends to both alcohol and drug abuse. As is the case with so many chronic conditions, the initial signs of addiction to heroin can be harder to spot than one might initially think.
In most cases, the telltale signs of addiction are often hidden behind a carefully constructed façade. Addiction that’s been woven into a meticulously managed lifestyle can make it difficult for family and friends to notice symptoms at all. Even a person suffering from addiction may find it tricky to separate truth from fiction at a certain point.
Unfortunately, if left untreated, heroin addiction can quickly spiral out of control and prove to be fatal. It may not be easy, but the ability to clearly identify signs of addiction to heroin can be the differentiating factor when it comes to saving the life of a loved one (or yourself).
Here are some of the most common signs of addiction to heroin.
Paraphernalia That Points to Signs of Addiction to Heroin
Long before physical symptoms of heroin use are noticed, friends and family members may see certain paraphernalia left around a home that should cause concern. To achieve the high associated with heroin, a user must either inject, smoke, or snort the substance. The process often involves items such as:
Spotting these items around the home of a person who has no other pre-existing medical conditions may be an indicator of heroin addiction. Additionally, heroin addicts frequently turn to homemade tourniquets constructed from elastic bands or rubber tubing to assist with vein definition when an injection is their preferred method of use.
Finding Heroin in the Home
Recognizing that a loved one is suffering from a heroin addiction begins with knowing what the drug itself looks like. Addiction is often overlooked simply because the substance isn’t recognized by others who live in the home of an addicted user.
Heroin is available in many forms. Knowing what to look for is vital. Its off-white, powdery nature can identify heroin. It can also be purchased in a thicker powder form that crumbles, in which case it will usually look brown or black. Black tar heroin is much more easily identified due to its thick, sticky texture and dark black coloring.
A heroin addict may not realize just how far they’ve fallen into the addiction cycle, but the physical symptoms associated with this type of drug use quickly become apparent. While many signs and symptoms can be hidden for a while, consistent use of heroin leads to unmistakable indicators of a problem.
Immediately after using heroin, an addict will experience an inevitable sense of euphoria. This happens because the opioid binds to receptors in the brain and releasing increased dopamine levels.
While the effect is strong, it’s only temporary, which leaves users to crave that same heightened feeling time and time again. This constant search for satisfaction leads to addiction over the long-term.
Heroin use eventually requires more significant doses of the drug to achieve the results that an addict is searching for. Physical signs of consistent heroin usage may include, but are not limited to:
- Constricted pupils
- Slurred speech patterns
- Runny nose
- Nose sores
- Needle marks on the arms
These symptoms may present by themselves or in combination. Individuals who show signs of nose sores often snort heroin, while needle marks may point to a user who regularly injects the drug.
Noticeable Adjustments in Lifestyle Changes
Sometimes, it’s easier to see signs of addiction to heroin through the drastic lifestyle changes often caused by the drug. As someone becomes more dependent on heroin to function, noticeable changes may start to take place.
Many people addicted to heroin will begin to suddenly become disinterested in activities that once firmly held their attention. Hobbies and group activities fall to the wayside, as their focus turns solely toward finding their next high.
Similarly, someone dealing with heroin addiction may begin falling behind at work or in school. Focus starts to fail as energy levels and motivation decrease drastically.
It’s not uncommon for someone using heroin to become noticeably more disheveled over time. Personal hygiene and grooming standards tend to drop as money is funneled toward purchasing their drug of choice.
Typically, financial changes can also be a major red flag for identifying a heroin addiction. Many will begin making requests for large sums of money or selling property and items to pay for the habit.
Relationships may also suffer because of heroin addiction. A person who can’t stop using may begin to shut out the people that they were once close to in an attempt to hide their condition or avoid confrontation altogether.
Once You Recognize the Signs of Addiction to Heroin, Take Back Your Life
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the Ocean Hills Recovery team is here to help. At Ocean Hills Recovery, we understand that the road to recovery takes time. Our focus is always on providing patients with the resources and tools that they need to take back the life they deserve.
We help people to achieve long-lasting success through compassionate care. You can get your life back on track. Reach out today to learn more about our many services and programs.
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.