Heroin is an opiate drug derived from Morphine. It is highly addictive and very dangerous. Typically Heroin is smoked, snorted, or injected by the user. Heroin addiction, like many other forms of substance abuse, often is the result of co-occurring mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or personality disorders. If you have suspicions that your loved one is addicted to Heroin, there are several signs that you can look for that indicate this might be the case.
According to the National Institute of Health, these are the main symptoms of Heroin addiction:
Short-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction
These effects occur very shortly after heroin use and last until the drug is out of the user’s system.
Depressed respiration – The heroin user’s breathing will be heavy and very slow for the duration of the high.
Clouded mental functioning – Decision-making will become very difficult and extremely apparent to anyone observing a person who has recently used heroin.
Nausea and vomiting – Heroin users will frequently vomit during use. This is particularly dangerous if the user is lying on their back because they run the risk of suffocation. If you suspect someone has just taken Heroin, dial 9-1-1 and do not let them lie on their back.
Suppression of pain – Users will be numb to most painful sensations immediately following heroin use.
Spontaneous abortion – Pregnant women within 20 weeks of pregnancy may abort without any other intervention while on Heroin. The main sign of this is vaginal bleeding.
Long-Term Effects of Heroin Addiction
These effects occur in repeated Heroin users and would be the main signs that you would see even if the user was not currently high on Heroin.
Infectious diseases – Diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C can result from Heroin addiction. These can occur from using needles that are not sterile to inject Heroin into the blood stream.
Collapsed veins – Heroin users who inject usually have collapsed veins from sloppy injections by themselves or other Heroin users. A collapsed vein cannot be reused to inject easily, so as an addict uses more and more, more of their veins continue to collapse.
Bacterial infections – These types of infections, such as Cellulitis, can occur in Heroin addicts who inject due to bacteria on the user’s skin or from shooting into fatty tissue. Bacterial infections are common in Heroin users.
Abscesses – These look like pimples and occur over the injection areas on Heroin users, usually the crook of the arm between the forearm and the upper arm.
Infection of heart lining and valves – This is caused by a lack of blood flow that kills the cells in the lining on the heart. This can lead to heart attacks.
Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems – Extended Heroin use can lead to Arthritis, usually in the axial joints in the neck.
To be clear, a person could show any of these symptoms even if they do not do any drug, let alone Heroin, but a collection of most or all of them should be addressed. Talk to your loved ones, and if you need help doing so, please call our hotline at 1-800-203-2024.