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12 Signs Your Loved One is Using Heroin

Heroin is a popular drug that is addictive and dangerous. In 2019, there were more than 14,000 heroin overdose deaths in the US. Knowing the signs that someone is using heroin is vital to preventing an overdose death among your loved ones and helping them find treatment.

If you suspect that someone you love is addicted to heroin, it is critical that they get the help they need as soon as possible to prevent further abuse and possibly fatal consequences. Medical and psychiatric care is often necessary to ensure someone has the best possible chance of achieving long-term recovery. The Summit Wellness Group uses a combination of therapies and techniques to help clients find recovery from heroin addiction.

How to Tell if Someone is Using Heroin

When you watch a TV show, it can be pretty easy to pinpoint the drug addict by the way that they are portrayed. In the real world, things are not always so obvious. This is especially the case when it is a friend, family member, or loved one. It can be difficult to recognize and then admit to ourselves that the person we love has a heroin problem. We may even try to write off their new, concerning behaviors because we simply can’t wrap our heads around the fact that they may be addicted to something as serious and dangerous as heroin.

Is My Loved One Using Heroin?

Knowing what to look for enables you to talk to a loved one who may be struggling with heroin addiction and support them in getting the help they need. Being able to identify the signs and getting educated on what heroin addiction looks like could be the decisive factor that saves their life if and when they overdose.

Lifestyle Signs of Using Heroin

Work or School Issues. The person may seem normal at the beginning of their drug use. As heroin use continues, finding and using the drug becomes the most important thing in their life. Normal responsibilities, such as school or work, become less important.

Declining Physical Appearance. Many people struggling with heroin addiction begin to neglect their physical appearance as the drug takes control of their lives. Heroin users will have drastic weight loss, and their skin may have sores or infections due to injecting the drug or constant itching or picking.

Relationship Problems. When a person abuses heroin, they may isolate themselves from friends, family members, or significant others for a variety of reasons. They may feel shame or embarrassment about their addiction even though they can’t seem to stop. They may also feel like a loved one will be able to notice they are using drugs. Someone may isolate themselves because the drug is the most important thing in their life and they spend all their time trying to get high or avoid withdrawal. Social interaction, especially with people who aren’t using heroin, may seem weird and uncomfortable.

Money Problems. Many people who use heroin will spend all their money on the drug. They may even try to borrow money or even steal money to buy more heroin. When the addiction takes control of their life, they may lose their job as they are unable to perform effectively while high. They may be unable to work due to heroin withdrawal.

Physical Signs

Scars on Arms, Toes, Hands, or Legs. If someone chooses to inject the drug for a more intense and immediate high, they will have “track marks” at the site of injection. If unclean needles are used or shared between people, or if someone uses the same injection site repeatedly, those areas may become infected. Heroin also causes itching which may lead to skin and hair picking, further contributing to infection.

Constricted Pupils. Heroin causes the pupils to constrict significantly. The eyes also may appear bloodshot. Dark circles underneath may be present as well.

Nausea or Vomiting. Some people vomit regularly when using heroin. This usually occurs shortly after drug use and can lead to weight loss.

Mumbled Speech. Heroin affects the brain by slowing everything down. This can cause a person to speak slowly and mumble their words, sometimes to the point of unintelligibility.

Mental / Emotional Changes

Mood Swings. People who use heroin may feel happy or content when they use the drug. As the euphoria fades and withdrawal symptoms set in, they may appear:

  • Exhausted
  • Irritable
  • Overly Emotional
  • Aggressive

Disrupted Sleep Patterns. Because heroin is a depressant, it can make users sleepy. They may appear to be in a state of semi-consciousness, sometimes referred to as “nodding off.” Continued use may cause insomnia as sleeping patterns are disrupted. It can also reduce the quality of sleep the person has leading to more frequent, but less restful sleep.

Attention or Memory Problems. Continued use of heroin can damage the hippocampus which controls memory and attention. Once the damage is done to this area of the brain, it may take years to recover if it is not permanent.

Confusion. The “nodding off” that is common during heroin use can lead to confusion and disorientation. Someone may forget where they are, what they were doing, and what they were about to do.

Getting Help

If you believe that someone you know and love is using heroin, the signs of addiction can be identified once you know what to look for. Being able to identify them could prevent an overdose from taking their life. Begin a conversation with your loved one about their change in behavior, their possible reliance on heroin, and what options they have available to them for treatment.

The Summit Wellness Group’s team includes doctors, psychiatrists, clinical therapists, counselors, and people in recovery from addiction themselves who make up a community support system that provides you and your loved one with resources that make recovery possible. Not only do we provide individualized heroin addiction treatment, but we also offer family groups and services to ensure that you are included in your loved one’s journey.

Your mental health needs are just as important. If you feel that your loved one’s addiction is causing extreme stress or frustration, speaking to one of our counselors can help you as well.

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Get help now

We’d love the opportunity to help you during this overwhelming and difficult process. The Summit Wellness Group is located in Georgia and all of your calls will be directed to one of our local staff members. Our sincere passion is helping people recover so that they can live full, meaningful and healthy lives.

Call us 24/7 at 770-299-1677. If we aren’t the right fit for you then we’ll utilize our expertise and connections within the treatment industry to assist you in finding the best provider for your specific needs. Alternatively you can fill out our contact form and a member of our staff will contact you shortly.