Heroin Abuse: How Do I Know if Someone is Using?

December 15, 2020 | drugs , heroin

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug made from morphine

Everyone understands the risk of heroin abuse. This illegal drug dominates the opioid epidemic, and most people know to take it seriously. 

But that doesn’t mean everyone accepts the fact that someone they know, especially a loved one, may be using heroin. It’s not always that they are ignorant of the signs. Often, it comes down to them simply not understanding the drug or the signs of heroin abuse.

If you are concerned with someone’s behavior, it’s wise not to jump to conclusions. The last thing you want to do is accuse a person of using heroin when they do not. But before we get into signs or symptoms of abusing heroin, let’s start by understanding what it is.

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug made from morphine

What is heroin?

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug made from morphine. Because the drug’s main element is made from the seed pod resin of the opium poppy plant, it classifies as an opioid. Heroin is a mind-altering substance that is known to put users in a state of total numbness and is often used to escape reality’s stresses and pressures.

Users typically slip into the need to chase the high and begin to use more of the substance each time, increasing their risk of falling victim to an opioid overdose.

The reality that heroin addictions can spiral out of control is no secret, but many do not know the different ways one may use heroin. Most associate it with injecting it directly into the bloodstream, but this isn’t the only way to use the drug. Different variations of the drug exist, allowing users to take it orally, nasally, or even smoke it.

Names for heroin 

Heroin goes by many names. Here are the most popular:

  • H
  • Horse 
  • White Horse
  • Black Tar 
  • Brown Sugar 
  • Junk
  • Smack
  • Ska 
  • Smack

What are the physical signs of heroin use?

Understanding what heroin is gives you a better point of view to observe the physical signs of its use. As you know, it’s a mind-altering substance, and that means when a person is using it, there are some clear indicators.

Heroin is known to cause an intense high many describe as a blissful sensation. That may true, but from the outside, we can observe several negative impacts heroin has on the physical condition.

Physical Signs 

  • Constricted pupils
  • Slow or irregular breathing 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Falling asleep suddenly
  • Slurred speech
  • Itchy skin 

Heroin abuse also causes a loss of appetite, and in many cases, those who use it frequently neglect to eat and stay hydrated. Over an extended period, this often results in dramatic weight loss and creates an unhealthy appearance.

Because it has such a dramatic impact on one’s mental state, there are plenty of psychological signs that accompany physical changes. You might even notice that they begin dressing differently. Wearing long sleeves or clothing that hides needle marks is not uncommon and is a dead giveaway.

Psychological Signs 

  • Anxiety 
  • Depression
  • Irritability/hostility 
  • Mood swings 
  • Withdrawal from loved ones
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of personal hygiene 

In many ways, heroin abuse can completely change a person physically and mentally, and this isn’t an easy thing to experience as a relative or close friend. If you’re still uncertain that heroin is the root of the issue, items such as paraphernalia are worth watching out for. Needles are an obvious candidate but don’t forget that makeshift pipes from pieces of tinfoil or even concealment containers are other things to be mindful of.

What should you do if your loved one is abusing heroin?

If someone is struggling with opioid addiction, seeking help immediately is imperative. But it’s not easy to approach someone you’re close to about an addiction—especially if he or she refuses to come to terms with their condition.

And while a heroin addiction is severe and warrants professional treatment through an addiction center, it is necessary to help them start with simple communication.

You must be honest and show concern for their wellbeing. You never want to use anger or threaten them. Instead, you should be encouraging and show that your goal is to help them reach a better state.

An intervention may also be useful, but before approaching them about their problem, you must be sure they are struggling with an addiction. Therefore, you should review the physical and psychological signs and ask yourself which you have seen and if they do prove the person is using heroin.

Concluding Thoughts

Heroin offers a massive impact on physical and mental conditions. There are also some inherent risks. This is precisely why you don’t want to understate the likelihood that someone you know may be struggling with an addiction.

Addicts often spiral into worsening conditions because they take more and more of the drug. In combination with being a highly addictive substance, the desire to experience a more intense high or a high that lasts longer can quickly lead to serious health problems or even death.

If you know someone struggling and don’t know how to help, you can always seek help from an addiction center like DayBreak Treatment Solutions to appropriately address the situation.