Heroin is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs known to man. You’d imagine that the signs of use would be pretty clear, and they are in most cases.
Sometimes, however, heroin users can manage to pass for clean and continue on with their daily lives. If you’re living with or love someone who might be hooked on heroin, it’s important to know what to look for.
We’re going to cover some of the hallmark signs of heroin use in this article so you can be more vigilant for your loved ones.
Common Signs of Heroin Use
While it’s difficult to think that your loved one could be using heroin, there’s no rhyme or reason to the ways that people get hooked on hard drugs. Sometimes it’s circumstantial, sometimes it’s a pattern of abuse.
In any case, it’s important to know what to look out for. We often think that people who use heroin will have track marks — needle holes in common injection areas — but it’s uncommon for modern heroin users to shoot up.
Some users still do shoot heroin but most smoke it. With that in mind, let’s go over some common signs:
We’ll go over the physical signs of heroin use next, but it’s likely that behavioral issues will be the ones that alarm you.
You’re not likely to jump to the conclusion that someone’s doing heroin if they have occasionally bloodshot eyes, for example.
Motivation and Drive
You might start to notice your loved one dropping out of the things they care about. It won’t happen all at once.
Peripheral hobbies and groups they might be involved in are the first to go. In other words, extra-curricular things like intramural sports or community involvement. The pieces of a person’s life that are crucial to their survival will be the last things to get taken over.
In exchange for activities they used to partake in, you might find them sleeping a lot and feeling lethargic. Heroin takes quite the toll on the body and users often have to recover for a day or two before they feel like themselves again.
This could involve nodding off in the middle of the day, during conversations, and more. Even if the person was previously lethargic to some degree, it will be clear that there’s something fueling this behavior as the signs will be distinct.
Depression is another sign of heroin use. After a period of time, the behavior will lead to a state of lethargy that makes positive self-image extremely difficult to uphold.
After a while, you might notice that the person is having financial difficulties. Bank accounts get drained quickly, and users often find themselves needing to borrow money from their friends and family.
If you notice or hear that the person has been borrowing money for specific things and never doing those things, it might be a cause for concern. Borrowing money and financial issues come later on in use after using has interfered with employment and savings.
The asking and borrowing in this stage might be very uncharacteristic for the person. It might also be normal for the person to have financial problems.
Keep an eye on whether or not they are spending money on what they say they are if they normally borrow money. If the person is typically very financially stable, it should be a cause for concern that they’re asking for money.
People using heroin will also have a laundry list of physical symptoms in some cases. It should be mentioned that these won’t always be present, but there are things to look out for.
Users will have bloodshot eyes if they are high or have recently been high. This is a common sign of marijuana use and other drugs as well. Someone using heroin might also lose a good deal of weight.
Of the stereotypes associated with heroin users, weight loss is one of the few that still rings true. The user might lose a decent amount of weight in a short time and continue to do so until they look sickly.
Heroin also causes people’s pupils to constrict. Pupils will look noticeably smaller. The culmination of these symptoms, mostly the weight loss, will make a person look distinctly different than they do when they’re healthy. You will still recognize them, of course, but it could look almost like an entirely different person.
Users might also display difficulty in the digestive system. Constipation is another sign of heroin use. Additionally, nausea and vomiting aren’t uncommon.
Another sign of heroin use is regular itchiness. This could be mild in public but very intense in private.
We’ve noted that users of heroin might experience depression to some degree. This is largely due to environmental factors that come about as a result of heroin use, but also relates to the psychological effect that heroin produces.
Going from states of intense pleasure straight to ones of despondency and craving have real effects on a person’s mind. As a person gets off of a heroin high, they fall steadily into a state of desire and craving for another hit.
Tolerance is quickly developed, and users’ bodies begin to feel as though they need the drug. That back and forth can distract a person from any normal behavior or aspirations, life becomes a back and forth between states of highness and lowness.
This can also cause a person to experience other difficult psychological issues. Paranoia is one such state. These effects get worse as time moves on and the person uses more and more.
Further, any latent mental illness that a person already has is liable to manifest in different, intense ways. Mental illness that is managed well will be put in jeopardy by the presence of heroin.
Does Someone Need Help?
If you’re noticing these common signs of heroin use in a loved one, it’s important that you start to take action. Talk with other loved ones and discuss good ways to intervene in the process.
For more information, contact us and we’d be glad to help.