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Signs of Heroin Use

Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

5 Signs of Heroin Use 

Table of Contents

Heroin is one of the most powerful and dangerous drugs on the planet. For those caught in the web of heroin addiction, it can feel like they are fighting for their life every day. For family and friends of a heroin addict, there is heartbreak and overwhelming feelings of powerlessness. Fortunately, help is available through the treatment programs and support that are available at a reputable heroin rehab.

While help is a phone call away, family and friends need to be proactive in recognizing the signs of heroin use. The following are the major signs that a loved one may need help of a heroin rehab center.

Signs That You Need Heroin Rehab

Sign #1—Obvious Physical Signs of Heroin Use

Perhaps the biggest signs of heroin use is that a loved one needs heroin rehab is the distinct physical signs that accompany heroin use. Since the main route of administration of the drug is through intravenous injection, users develop track marks on their arms, neck, thighs and other body parts where major veins are located. This track marks can become infected over time leaving sores and scars. As a result, users will cover up these marks with long sleeves and pants—even in hot weather.

Additionally, poor hygiene is also one of the signs of heroin use. Long-term heroin users often go days and even weeks without bathing. Also, heroin users may wear unwashed clothes for lengthy periods of time. Because heroin suppresses appetite, users appear gaunt and are often severely malnourished.

Sign #2—Users Experience Withdrawal Symptoms

Another symptom of heroin use is if they experience withdrawal symptoms. Many heroin addicts realize they are hooked and try to quit through self-detox. However, the painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin force them back to active use. The common symptoms of heroin withdrawal are the following:

  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes
  • Fever
  • Severe muscle and bone pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Body aches

While these withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening themselves, it does require proper medical detoxification. If there are other drugs being abused or if the user has underlying medical issues, heroin withdrawal can become life-threatening.

Sign #3—An Increase in Unusual Behavior

Heroin significantly alters a user’s brain chemistry. As a result, their behaviors will significantly change, and this is also one of the signs of heroin use. The following are some behavioral changes you may see in a heroin addict:

  • Noticeable changes in social activities. The heroin user will often make excuses for why they don’t attend family functions or other events.
  • Your loved one gives up the hobbies and activities they previously enjoyed.
  • You notice an abrupt change in friends
  • Increased isolation and secretive behavior.

Sign #4—Denial by User of Their Addiction

As with other drugs, those addicted to heroin operate under extreme denial. When confronted about their use of heroin, your loved one may play off the seriousness of their addiction. Additionally, they will become extremely defensive and may blame others in order to deflect responsibility onto themselves. The addict is the last person to see the damage of their heroin use and its effects on their family and others.

Sign #5—Pawning or Stealing of Valuable Merchandise

Heroin can be an expensive drug for those who are addicted. While the drug itself can be relatively inexpensive, the amount needed each day for a heroin addict to function can deplete their finances. If the addict has depleted all of their financial resources, they will start to pawn their own valuable items to get the cash to maintain their habit.

Once the user exhausts their own belongings, they will likely resort to stealing valuables belonging to a family member or friend. They will go for items with monetary value such as computer and stereo equipment, jewelry and musical instruments.

See the Signs, Get Help Immediately

When a loved one is showing signs of heroin addiction, you need to spring into action immediately and seek for a Heroin Addiction Treatment Center. Heroin abuse can result in deadly consequences. It is crucial to intervene early yet it is never too late to help someone in need.  Contact NuView Treament Center to learn more about treatment options we offer. We are committed to helping find you of a loved one quality treatment that for each individual’s needs. NuView offers outpatient drug rehab Los Angeles.

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Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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