Heroin Addiction Symptoms
Heroin Addiction Symptoms
Heroin is best
known for its illegal sale and abuse, but there are legitimate uses for this
drug, which was originally created to be an improved, non-addictive version of
morphine. It is a powerful opioid
analgesic, used to control severe pain. It is available in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands by
But like so many drugs, it
is used for recreation and it is highly addictive. Heroin is so
powerful that it is useful to control acute pain. When misused, it give the
user a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. It is what is called a “downer,” as it works on the area of the brain
that sends pain messages.
may come on suddenly or over a prolonged period of time, depending on the
individual. Understand too that not
everybody who uses heroin for recreation is going to become an addict, but
chances are one in four will. Heroin addiction is characterized by the
inability of the individual to stop using the drug. Over time a person can develop a psychological and
physiological dependence on the drug.
Heroin Addiction can be hidden
heroin addict in the earlier stages of the disease may be able to hide his/her
addiction and function well, holding a job, maintaining friendships and family
relationships. But over time, heroin addiction will take over that person’s
life and become the single focal point of life.
Simply put, what starts out as a “rush” or a “high” and a highly
pleasurable experience, turns into the need to use the drug to feel good or to
The chemical changes in the
brain will actually fool the brain into thinking that it needs the drug to
withdrawal is not life-threatening, it is nonetheless an unpleasant place to be
and heroin addicts will often fear that withdrawal.
The symptoms may come on within hours after
the person has used, or sometimes the symptoms will begin a day or so
That’s when family and friends
might be able to pick up on the addiction, even if the addict has been
concealing the illness well.
The drug IS their life.
The addict will crave the drug, because it has taken over
that focal point in their life.
else matters. These are the heroin addiction symptoms you need to look for.
They will break out into a
sweat and have muscle and bone pain, or perhaps they become sick, having nausea
There is an emotional component to the
withdrawal, as they can become tearful and upset. Sometimes they develop muscle
twitching which takes the form of leg kicking.
The problem that
long-term addicts have is that the withdrawal can include some medical
The use of heroin has
compromised the body, so other issues can erupt.
Heroin can cause cardiac arrest, respiratory
failure, a rise in temperature, irregular heart beat and other medical
Because the heroin can shut down the central nervous system,
people overdose and die from this drug. These are the heroin addiction symptoms that all of use fear.
The lingering effects are what cause the complications during
But let’s back up
for a moment. It’s really hard sometimes
to tell whether or not a person is using heroin or is becoming addicted. You have to look for things, much like a
detective looks for clues to a crime. Look for changes in behavior as a key part of their heroin addiction symptoms.
- They may spend more time alone than before, or not interact
with family and friends.
- They may lose interest in their job, their education, their
hobbies and this may be a slow process, so these symptoms may not be
- They may have some physical signs, such as dry mouth,
shortness of breath, or a general slowing down in their actions.
- Their behavior might be strange, or perhaps they just fall
asleep for no particular reason.
- Their pupils become constricted and they may not know where
they are or what’s going on.
It’s not any one
of the heroin addiction symptoms that points to this drug specifically, because the symptoms we have described can apply
to other drugs as well, but heroin users have to prepare the drug for
injection, the most common way to use.
Therefore there has to be paraphernalia somewhere, such as
syringes, a spoon used to cook the drug, aluminum foil and a plastic bag with a
white substance in it, the residue.
might have straws that have been burned. Maybe there is a water pipe. Look for
clues as part of your search for heroin addiction symptoms.
If there is no
physical evidence, then look for behavior evidence. As the disease progresses
and becomes increasingly more important to the addict, they will change. They will lie and cheat to get their drug,
they will steal money and objects from their family and friends.
- They will avoid making eye contact with you.
- They will sleep more, sometimes all day.
Every activity of life will begin to slip away. Their
closest friends will be replaced by the acquaintances they do the drugs with,
they’ll avoid family and they eventually will lose their job or flunk out of
Addicts no longer care about how they look, or their
personal cleanliness these are key giveaway heroin addiction symptoms.
They are likely to
become irritable and sometimes aggressive or nasty to people who they otherwise
would love and want to be around. As the
disease takes over, they no longer have self-respect, but that does not mean
they will cooperate with anyone who suggests that treatment is in order.
Heroin Addiction is arrogant.
The disease of heroin addiction has an
“arrogance” as it takes an otherwise rational person and turns him/her into a
completely selfish, uncaring and destructive animal.
Heroin addiction is
insatiable. Because the addict will
build up a tolerance to the drug, it is going to take more and more heroin to
achieve the effects. As the drug takes
over, they may lose interest in eating and lose a lot of weight. The injections
can also lead to using dirty needles which can lead to hepatitis and
HIV/AIDS. Injection sites may be
Family and friends
can play a major role in watching for these heroin addiction symptoms by simply
watching the person they love. Be
vigilant and look for the signs, not just the dramatic signs of addiction, but
the subtle changes in behavior. The
sooner they see what is going on and step in to help, the better.
MUST get treatment!
The only way to effectively get off heroin is to go into
treatment and allow qualified medical professionals and drug counselors to
After treatment, heroin addicts
need to be a part of the recovery community as they rebuild their lives. There
is hope and people do get their lives back.
Addiction Severity Index
The Addiction Severity Index is a quick assessment of where you are. Are you addicted? How severe is your addiction? This assessment can help to answer those questions:
- Simple 20 question assessment
- Research based, widely used
- Answer the questions in terms of the last 12 months
- Alcohol is a drug
- Count one point for every yes question
- Quick may not be comprehensive
Here are the 20 questions:
1. Have you used drugs other than those required for medical reasons?
2. Have you abused prescription drugs?
3. Do you abuse more than one drug at a time?
4. Do you use drugs every week?
5. Have you tried to stop and then started using again?
6. Have you had “blackouts” or “flashbacks” as a result of drug use?
7. Do you ever feel bad or guilty about your drug use?
8. Does your spouse (or parents) ever complain about your involvement with drugs?
9. Has drug abuse created problems between you and your spouse or your parents?
10. Have you ever lost friends over your drug use?
11. Have you neglected your family over drug use?
12. Have you been in trouble at work/school over drug use?
13. Have you lost a job over drug use?
14. Have you gotten in fights while under the influence of drugs?
15. Have you engaged in illegal activities in order to obtain drugs?
16. Have you been arrested for possession of illegal drugs?
17. Have you ever felt sick when you stopped taking drugs?
18. Have you had medical problems related to your drug use?
19. Have you gone to anyone for help for a drug problem?
20. Have you gone to a treatment program specifically for drug abuse?
Scoring your results:
0 no issue with addiction
1 – 5 Low level may not be addicted
6 – 10 Moderate (likely has addiction)
11 – 15 Substantial Addiction
16 – 20 Severe Addiction
Based on this test please consider getting the level of help your score indicates you need.