Heroin abuse is a deadly disease that has led to over 15,500 deaths in the United States during 2016.1 In fact, heroin use has more than doubled among young adults ages 18–25 in the past decade.2 However, despite these surprising statistics, heroin abuse can be difficult to identify. You may suspect a loved one is using, but it’s hard to be sure. That’s why it’s so important to understand the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of heroin addiction so you will be able to identify heroin abuse when you see it.
In most cases, the symptoms of heroin are recognizable in early stages. For example, an individual may have a runny nose, sweating, constipation or diarrhea, cramping or nausea.3 In addition, some people experience headaches when they spend much time without the drug in their systems, as well as bone and muscle pain.
A heroin user may “nod off” or fall asleep at random times. He or she may even become unresponsive. In most cases, it is difficult for someone under the influence of heroin to show enthusiasm or emotion of any kind or to follow a simple conversation. Hygiene concerns tend to fall by the wayside as heroin addiction progresses. Abscesses may form at injection sites. A heroin user’s immune system becomes weakened over time, so a number of chronic health problems may surface such as respiratory illness, pneumonia, heart attacks, slow heart rates and other health issues.4
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
The mental and emotional effects of heroin abuse are most obvious to the person living with the disease. In general, heroin users often have feelings of numbness or have a lack of emotion. Heroin users have a hard time connecting to anything but the needle. Individuals have a lack of interest in normal activities and do not set goals or commitments. You could often describe a heroin user as being “checked out.” Life is simply not interesting; the only thing that excites them is getting another fix.
Some other symptoms of heroin use include fractured relationships and money problems.Simply put, heroin use depletes financial resources. When someone uses heroin, he will likely miss a lot of work. Those who have jobs will rarely keep them long. Addiction symptoms generally occur within the first few months of drug use, so if you notice any of these signs, your friend or loved one needs to get treatment.
When Ryan F. needed help, he made the choice to get it, and that has made all the difference: “I still have hope. I don’t want to throw my life away, and I want whoever reads this to know you’re not alone. Help is right around the corner; you just have to be ready to accept it. This isn’t something you can do on your own.” Read more of Ryan’s story at Heroes In Recovery.
At Michael’s House we are ready to help you break free from heroin abuse. We are just a phone call away. Michael’s House offers the highest quality care available and has a proven record of success. We can help you or your loved one live a life without drugs. Call us at 760-548-4032 for more information about our drug treatment programs.
1 Soaring Opioid Drug Deaths Cause U.S. Life Expectancy To Drop For 2nd Year. CBS News. 21 December 2017.
2 “Today’s Heroin Epidemic.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 7 July 2015.
3 “Heroin.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. January 2018.
4 Fogoros, Richard N. “Can Opioids Cause Heart Problems?” VeryWellHealth. 9 March 2017.