How confident are you about your ability to recognize the signs of heroin use?
If someone that you care about was abusing or had become addicted to heroin, would you immediately realize that they’re in trouble?
If your knowledge of heroin use is limited to what you’ve seen on television or in a movie, you may not be as prepared as you think you are. Long-term heroin use can be a source of considerable devastation. But at the beginning, a person who has been using heroin might look like this:
- Teen who is eating more and sleeping less
- Spouse who has become distracted and forgetful
- Close friend who isn’t responding to your texts
These scenarios could all have a simple solution. But whether you realize it or not, they can also all be signs of heroin use.
If someone in your life has begun using heroin, they need immediate help. The more you know about what heroin use looks like, the better prepared you will be to connect your loved one with the treatment that can literally safe their life
Emotional Signs of Heroin Use
Heroin is an opioid. It interacts with parts of the brain that are associated with automatic functions such as respiration and heart rate. It also alters both mood and perception. As a result, people who use heroin may experience a variety of emotional, psychological, and behavioral signs.
Possible emotional signs of heroin use include the following:
- Confusion and disorientation
- Inability to follow a conversation
- Dramatic mood swings
- Uncharacteristic outbursts of anger
- Diminished decision-making and problem-solving skills
- Memory problems
- Anxiety, paranoia, and depression
The emotional and psychological impact of this drug also be evident through certain behavioral signs of heroin use. Here are a few examples:
- Suddenly having difficulties in school
- Substandard performance at work
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Lying or being otherwise deceptive about their whereabouts and activities
- Associating with a new peer group
- No longer participating in sports, hobbies, or other pursuits that were previously very important to them
- Neglecting personal and professional responsibilities
None of the signs listed above are definitive proof that a person has been using heroin. But any significant changes in how a person thinks, feels, or acts may indicate that they are having some type of mental or behavioral health crisis. In some cases, these changes may be signs of heroin use.
Physical Signs of Heroin Use
Heroin use can also have a dramatic effect on a person’s body and appearance. The following are examples of common physical signs of heroin use:
- Lack of attention to appearance, grooming, and hygiene
- Diminished appetite and resultant weight loss
- Watery eyes and runny nose
- Dry mouth
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Persistent fatigue
- Hypersomnia (sleeping much more than normal)
- Suddenly nodding off or falling asleep
- Itchiness and persistent scratching
Also, if a person has been injecting heroin, they may begin to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants even when it’s extremely hot. This is a way to scabs, abscesses, and other evidence of injections.
What Does Heroin Look Like?
Pure heroin is a white powder. Street-level heroin is often a grey or brownish powder. It may sometimes be in the form of a sticky tar-like substance.
The changes in heroin’s appearance from its original white coloration often result from other substances being added to it. This is commonly referred to as cutting or lacing the drug.
A dealer may cut heroin with sugar, chalk, corn starch, laundry detergent and other substances so they can sell less heroin for more money. A person may lace heroin with another drug to enhance its effects.
On its own, heroin can be extremely dangerous. When the drug is cut or laced with other substances, the risk of harm may be magnified considerably.
What Does Heroin Paraphernalia Look Like?
If a person is using heroin via intravenous injection, they will need a hypodermic needle. But needles are not the only type of heroin paraphernalia. Many common household items can be repurposed by people who are abusing heroin. Here are a few examples:
- Balloons and small plastic bags are often used to store heroin.
- Bent spoons may be used to hold heroin over a flame to prepare the drug for injection.
- Rubber tubing, shoelaces, and pieces of clothesline might be used to “tie off” a person’s arm or leg. This is done to make their veins bulge, which provides an easier target for the drug to be injected.
- Cotton balls can be used to strain some impurities from liquid heroin before it is injected.
- Aluminum foil may hold heroin that is being heated so that the fumes can be inhaled.
- Small or cut-down straws may be used to inhale heroin fumes, or to snort powdered heroin.
- Rolling papers or small pipes may be used by people who smoke heroin.
Where do People Hide it?
People who use paraphernalia to use heroin need to hide these items to avoid detection. They must also keep the items close by so they can access them once they’ve acquired the drug. Here are a few places where a person might hide their heroin paraphernalia:
- In a small box under their bed
- A slit in their mattress
- The back of a dresser or desk drawer
- In a makeup kit or other common personal item
- A hole in a wall that is covered by a picture or poster
- Behind a vent or outlet
Get Help at Our Heroin Treatment Center in Los Angeles Today
If someone in your life has been abusing heroin or has become addicted to this dangerous drug, the LA Detox team is here to help. Our heroin addiction treatment center in Los Angeles is a trusted source of personalized service in a safe and welcoming environment. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and services.