Heroin addiction is a dangerous condition that can have fatal consequences. One of the most trafficked drugs in the world, heroin is easy to buy in almost any part of the world and can have devastating effects, both on the user and on others.
Knowing and understanding some of the signs of heroin use could help family members, friends, or others discover a heroin addict in time before he or she becomes aware of the serious consequences of heroin use.
How can you recognize a person addicted to heroin?
The drug known as heroin is an opiate drug created from poppy seeds. Originally designed as a substitute for morphine, the heroin has been used in the past to relieve withdrawal symptoms of alcoholics.
Unfortunately, the synthesized drug is extremely captivating, causing both physical and psychological dependence, which increases with the repeated use of heroin.
Heroin is usually available as a powder that is melted, injected or smoked. One of the most important clues to heroin addiction is the arsenal of accessories that people who consistently use heroin carry it anywhere. These accessories are used by consumers to administer the drug.
Pipettes and syringes are the most used tools, but heroin addicts can also have aluminum foil over which the drug is melted or warmed up before use.
There are several physical signs associated with heroin addiction, although many of these may also occur with the use of other drugs such as marijuana or cocaine:
- shrinking pupils
- blurred speech
These being common indications of a person who is under the influence of drugs. More severe symptoms such as skin or nail bleeding, faint pulse, convulsions, and loss of knowledge may indicate heroin overdose. In this case, emergency medical intervention is required.
People around addicts may notice a series of visible signs during and after heroin consumption, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Sudden changes in behavior or action
- Cycles of hyperactivity, followed by sudden lethargy.
Intravenous heroin administration also leaves distinctive signs of addiction. Heroin addicts have several injuries in the same place. Arms are the most preferred body part for injections but sting injuries will deteriorate over time, causing heroin users to change their injection zones.
The addiction begins gradually when body is building up heroin tolerance, which increases the frequency and amount of heroin consumption. The higher the tolerance, the physical symptoms specific to heroin abuse may occur:
- Weight loss
- Rhinorrhea (without being justified by the presence of a disease)
- Visible signs as a result of the use of needles in the vein of the arms
- Infections or abscesses in the injection areas
- Loss of menstrual cycle (amenorrhea)
- Cuts, bruises or scabs on the skin.
- Behavioral changes may also be a sign of heroin addiction or other prohibited substances.
- Changing appearance and poor physical care (dirty clothes, beardless or unprotected beard), low performance at work, and abandoning loved activities can signal drug use.
However, some behavioral changes can be caused by many conditions, including depression or stress. Experts recommend prudence when attempting to detect behavioral changes in people suspected of heroin use. To judge hurriedly some behaviors can be detrimental to the relationship with the addict, who will become secretive and will even try to hide their addiction.
Behavioral signs of heroin abuse include:
- Lying or other fraudulent behaviors
- Prolonged sleep
- Accentuating speech unclear, deformed or incoherent
- Sudden worsening of school or job performance, including dismissal or expulsion
- Decreased interest in personal hygiene
- Loss of motivation and apathy towards the goals of the future
- Theft or repeated borrowing of money from close ones
- Hostile behaviors towards loved ones
- Wearing long pants and long-sleeved blouses even when the weather is warm
- Lack of interest for your favorite activities.
The secondary effects of heroin addiction
The side effects of heroin abuse vary with each individual and the duration of drug use. Addiction to other substances outside heroin can aggravate the complications and side effects of heroin use.
Following heroin use, the addict may experience itchy skin that is accompanied by dry mouth, and a sensation of weight in the extremities. This condition can be followed by nausea and vomiting.
Other short-term side effects include:
- Diminishing cognitive function
- Low sensation of pain in some physical conditions
- The uncontrollable feeling of itching that results in excessive scratching of the skin (to the point where scratches bleed).
Heroin abuse can cause serious medical conditions that can lead to death (directly or indirectly):
- Heart problems, including mucosal infections of the heart and valves
- Infectious diseases spread by sharing needles (HIV and hepatitis B and C)
- Blood clots or tissue damage around the broken veins
- Bacterial infections
- Arthritis and other rheumatological problems
Heroin addiction is closely linked to overdose and death. In addition, heroin addicts often arrive in jail after acts of theft. It is important that when you suspect a family member or a friend to be a heroin consumer, try to discover the truth. This allows you to quickly help the person in question. Prompt, but tactful intervention can save their lives.