Heroin abuse rates have greatly increased in recent years to the point where it is now an epidemic. Nearly 13,000 people died of heroin overdoses in 2015, and millions of people over the age of 12 continue to report using the drug at least once. Black tar heroin has proven to be particularly dangerous thanks to the belief that the “unrefined” form of the drug isn’t as potent as its white powdery form, which makes an accidental overdose more likely.

One of the biggest problems with heroin is that it can be difficult to recognize the signs of heroin use since it shares many of the same symptoms as addictions to other opiates. If you’re concerned that someone you know is using heroin, look for some of these signs:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Constricted pupils
  • Periods of hyperactivity followed by extreme drowsiness
  • Disorientation
  • A droopy and fatigued appearance, as if their arms are heavy

You might see some other signs of heroin use that are similar to addictions to other drugs such as slurred and garbled speech, hostility towards loved ones, poor hygiene, weight loss, and a sudden lack of interest in hobbies or their personal goals.

If someone is using heroin intravenously – that is, they use a syringe to inject the drug into their veins – you might also see needle marks on their arms or elsewhere on their body. They may even start to wear long-sleeved shirts more often to hide these marks.

It should also be noted that these symptoms aren’t only emblematic of heroin addiction. That being said, even if it is not heroin addiction, those signs are still highly indicative of drug abuse and treatment should still be sought out.

Heroin Withdrawal

In addition to knowing the signs of heroin use, you also need to be on the lookout for symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Some of these include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea
  • Intense cramps in the limbs
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea

Withdrawal from heavy long-term heroin use is very serious and can even be fatal in some cases. This is why it is so important that you seek medical attention for anybody who may be going through withdrawal. Heroin addiction is generally not something that someone can overcome on their own.

Seeking Help

Heroin is clearly one of the most dangerous street drugs out there and that is why it has developed the reputation it has, even among people who know next to nothing about drugs or addiction. Even though it can be difficult to determine that someone is using heroin as opposed to other drugs, it is imperative that you gently confront a loved one who may be addicted and encourage them to seek help.

If you or a loved one is abusing heroin or any other drugs or alcohol, know that there is help available to you. We at Discovery Institute specialize in heroin detox, treatment, cognitive therapy, and other addiction support services. To learn more about the programs that we offer or to seek help for yourself or a loved one, contact us today at 844-478-6563.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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