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Signs of Heroin Use

The signs of heroin use may include the physical and emotional changes noticed in a friend, or the sudden disappearance of household items and cash traced to a son or daughter stealing to support a habit. For many, signs of heroin use also has a great deal to do with how the drug is taken. Heroin is typically injected, snorted, or smoked. Injection provides the fastest rush and greatest intensity of the drug, usually within seconds. When heroin is snorted or smoked the effects are usually felt within 10 to 15 minutes. Smoking and snorting heroin do not produce the rush as quickly or as intensely as injection does; yet all three forms of heroin administration are addictive.

Injection, referred to as "shooting up", is the most popular route of heroin use among addicted users seeking treatment. However, researchers have observed that patterns are shifting to more addicts snorting referred to as "sniffing" or smoking heroin. The shift in heroin abuse patterns from injection to snorting/smoking is introducing the use of heroin to more diverse group of users. Adults over the age of 30 continue to be one of the largest user groups abusing heroin.

Very few heroin addicts reach out for help on their own. They are usually in too deep of a state of denial, or are so far into the cycle of heroin addiction that making smart decisions is simply not an option. That means the burden of helping a heroin addict will often fall on family, friends and other loved ones. But how can these caring individuals know if their loved one even has a problem with heroin use? Understanding the signs of heroin use outlined below is a good place to start.

What are the most common signs of heroin use? Although every individual is different, the following represent some of the most common signs of heroin use:

  • A lost look in the eyes
  • Apathetic or lethargic behavior
  • Bouts with depression
  • Chills and fever
  • Constricted pupils
  • Deceptive behavior to friends and family members
  • Displays of hostility toward others
  • Engaging in criminal or reckless behavior to support addiction
  • Euphoria
  • Losing interest in friends or favorites hobbies/activities
  • Lying about one.s whereabouts
  • Needle marks on arms - and even on leg
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Runny nose, sneezing or constant sniffing
  • Shallow breathing
  • Speech is sometimes slurred
  • Stealing money to support heroin habit
  • Strong drug cravings
  • Very little motivation, and no desire to form future plans

There are many other signs of heroin use; one of the most common signs includes dramatic changes in one's life. Here are some of the areas in which someone may make drastic changes due to a heroin use:

  • Performance. This can either be at school or work - or in some other way. Are the person's grades suddenly dropping? Is the quality of work assignments becoming progressively worse? Does the person's performance in sports or music suffer? When someone suddenly becomes worse at something he or she is good at, this can be one of the signs of heroin use. Additionally, someone using heroin may stop showing up on time - or at all.
  • Personal care. This is a sign common to many substance abuse problems. When a person is abusing heroin, he or she may not take good care of him or herself. You may notice that personal hygiene, such as regular showers and changing one's clothing regularly, is no longer important. Someone who is involved in heroin abuse may no longer care about fixing his or her hair, or performing other grooming tasks.
  • Tendency toward recklessness. Someone using heroin often does not care about the natural consequences of his or her actions. He or she may do reckless things, such as steal to get money for more drugs - or even engage in other dangerous behaviors. Natural consequences of their choices are no longer important to heroin users.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and activities. Another of the signs of heroin use is withdrawal from normal activities. New, more dangerous friends can indicate a heroin addiction. Additionally, someone involved in heroin abuse may also become more secretive, desiring to be left alone by family members. Heroin addicts also may begin withdrawing from enjoyed activities, such as going out with friends or participating in clubs and organizations.

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