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The Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

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Struggling with an addiction to any substance or behavior has massive ramifications in one’s life. One’s struggles with heroin are no different, introducing a myriad of challenges and consequences for one’s physical and mental health, social life, finances, and more. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of heroin use, either in oneself or in a loved one, is the first step in taking action to overcome such a devastating disease. While some signs of heroin use are more overt, others can be subtle but just as dangerous, and identifying the myriad of ways in which heroin affects one’s life is necessary for creating a truly transformative recovery plan. 

The Prevalence of Heroin Use

While addiction can feel like an incredibly isolating disease, with each individual having their own unique symptoms, ramifications, and story surrounding the drug, heroin addiction is more common than many realize. In 2020, 13,165 deaths as a result of heroin overdose were reported alone. However, while this number is staggering, it does not account for those who engage with heroin despite personal ramifications for themselves or their family. It also does not address the increasing number of those struggling with a mixture of drugs, particularly combining heroin with other opioids or the potent fentanyl. With the ubiquity of heroin across the United States, being vigilant about potential signs of heroin use is crucial. 

Physical Signs of Heroin Use

Heroin affects both one’s mind and body in drastic ways. However, the first signs of heroin use can often be found in the physical changes to one’s body as a result of the drug. 

Those using heroin may experience: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Increased body temperature
  • Tremors
  • Chills
  • Constricted pupils
  • Track marks or scabs around injection sites
  • Itchiness
  • Slowed or irregular breathing patterns
  • Nausea/vomiting

While some of these physical signs of heroin use can be short-lived, often occurring directly after using the drug, there is also a myriad of long-term physical effects of heroin use. Collapsed veins, skin infections, insomnia, liver or lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and insomnia are all tied to heroin use. Depending on the method of administration, an individual can also be at an increased risk of infection or disease from needles, such as hepatitis or HIV. 

Behavioral Effects of Heroin

While heroin has a drastic effect on one’s physical health, recognizing the behavioral signs of heroin use is just as important. Those struggling with addiction may experience massive changes in their daily routine, even adopting entirely new routines or behaviors. 

Some of the behavioral signs of heroin use include:

  • Avoiding personal responsibilities or obligations
  • Inconsistent workplace or scholastic performance/attendance
  • Neglecting personal hygiene 
  • Sudden change in financial situation or sudden claimed inability to pay for groceries or rent
  • Engaging with a new social group
  • Self-isolating behaviors
  • Becoming more defensive or secretive about one’s life, such as not telling where one is going
  • Being defensive about personal spaces such as their car or bedroom
  • Changes in wardrobe or wearing out-of-season clothes, such as sweatshirts in summer
  • Lack of focus 

Emotional Effects of Heroin Use

Lastly, heroin also affects one’s emotional and mental health, and those struggling with addiction may find their emotions difficult to manage. Some of the signs of emotional damage resulting from heroin use include:

  • Mood swings
  • Increased feelings of anger or being easily agitated or frustrated
  • Uncontrollable outbursts
  • Sudden changes in personality
  • Decreased motivation for previous interests or obligations
  • A drastic increase in feelings of anxiety
  • Depression

The combined emotional, physical, and behavioral effects of heroin use fundamentally change how one lives their life and the lives of those around them. It is not necessary to identify every single of these signs when questioning addiction, and recognizing a few of these could be enough reason to open a dialogue about potential drug use or other challenges that one may be facing. There is nothing easy about confronting the use and effects of heroin, but change is always possible with the right support and dedication. 

Taking the First Step

Confronting an addiction to any substance or behavior takes effort, and professional help is necessary to overcome the challenges addiction presents. For those struggling with their use of heroin, identifying the various ways in which their lives have been impacted is only the first step, with dedicated professional detox, residential, and outpatient programs being instrumental in developing personalized recovery strategies. Heroin is an incredibly dangerous drug, with long-term detriments along with the possibility of overdose and other ramifications. Working with professionals who are educated and equipped to challenge its effects in a safe and supportive environment is necessary for a truly transformed, drug-free future. 

Heroin is a destructive drug that has intense effects on the body and mind. If you or a loved one are struggling with the use of heroin and are ready to take your first step toward a sober future, Pacific Sands Recovery Center can help you today. We understand the intense effects of addiction and are prepared to help you address both the symptoms of drug use and how heroin has affected each aspect of your life. From dedicated professional detox to individual and group therapy, residential treatment, proven therapeutic exercises, and a supportive community of peers and professionals, we champion the opportunity to create your best recovery path. Recovery and sobriety are always possible, and we are ready to help you explore all available options for your best healing. For more information on how we can help you, call to speak to us at (714) 492-1119.

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