Heroin addiction is a dangerous condition that can have potentially fatal consequences. One of the most widely trafficked drugs in the world, heroin is easy to find in almost any part of the world, and can have devastating effects on both the user and those around him or her. Understanding some of the signs and indications of both drug use and heroin addiction can help parents and concerned friends discover and try to help an addicted person before far worse consequences ensue.
The drug known as heroin is an opiate drug created from certain poppy seeds. Originally developed as a morphine substitute, heroin was originally touted for its ability to help alcohol addicts overcome withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, the synthesized drug is in itself extremely addictive, causing both physical and psychological dependence that grows with repeated use.
Heroin typically comes in powder form and is usually melted, injected, or smoked before use. One of the most critical indications of addiction is the drug paraphernalia used to administer the drug. Pipes and syringes are common heroin implements but users may also have spoons or aluminum foil nearby in order to heat or melt the drug before using. Rolled tubes made from paper or paper money may also be a sign of addiction, since some users snort the drug from a flat surface using a tube placed in one nostril.
There are several physical signs associated with heroin addiction, although many of these are common to several different types of recreation drugs including alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Constricted pupils, slurred speech, drowsiness and signs of confusion are all common signs of a person who is currently under the influence of drugs. Severe symptoms, such as blue-tinged skin or nails, slow pulse, seizures, or loss of consciousness, can be an indication of a heroin overdose. If an overdose is suspected, summon medical attention immediately and do everything possible to keep the person awake until professional help arrives.
Injecting heroin intravenously also leaves signs that point to an addiction. If a person has “tracks,” or several injection marks or wounds in the same area, he or she may be using an injectable drug. Veins on the arm are a common injection site where tracks are noticeable, but veins will collapse overtime, causing many users to alternate injection sites.
Behavioral changes may also be a sign of heroin addiction or a similar drug problem. Changes in appearance, falling grades or job performance, and abandonment of once-loved hobbies or activities can all signal drug use. However, behavioral symptoms can be a sign of many things, including depression, stress, or even new relationships. Many experts urge caution when confronting a suspected drug user about behavioral changes; judgmental accusations without proof can be detrimental, and may cause the accused to become secretive and paranoid.
Heroin addiction is notoriously linked to overdose, death, and lifelong struggles against returning to active addiction. If drug abuse is suspected in a family member or friend, it is important to discover the truth and help the person as quickly as possible. Keeping a close eye out for signs of recreational drug use may not only prevent an addiction from forming, but possibly save a life.