4 signs of Heroin Addiction

Heroin is one of the most serious and dangerous illegal drugs out there. When someone develops a heroin addiction, they become nearly 20 times more likely to die. Getting involved with heroin leads to one of the fastest progressions from trial to abuse to addiction and then finally death. Besides damaging your health, heroin has a way to also strain and disrupt lives and relationships. This is why early, intensive treatment is the best way to manage a heroin problem.

Chances are, if you’ve landed on this article, that you suspect someone you love is using heroin. If you’re not yet sure, there are signs that you can look for. We’ve put together a list of the 4 most common signs of heroin addiction to look out for.

1. Paraphernalia and other remains of Heroin

Before some of the physical or behavioral symptoms of heroin addiction start to pop up, you may notice physical evidence of Heroin use. If your loved one has just started using, this might be the only sign so far. Because of the disinhibiting and tiring effects of the drug, it’s not unusal to forget to clean up or hide the evidence. Look out for:

  • Heroin itself: It can look like a black resin-like substance or even a whitish to brown powder.
  • Syringes (needles) and spoons: These items are used to prepare the heroin and inject it.
  • Small plastic bags: Heroin is usually sold in small plastic bags.
  • Water pipes: Heroin can be smoked as well as injected.

2. Intoxication

The short term effects of heroin can last up to a few hours, though the initial high is usually brief, lasting only 15-30 minutes. Usually, the user will try to plan their highs when you or other family members are away. However, it’s still possible that you’ll catch them in the act. Get to know these tell-tale signs of a heroin high:

  • Drowsiness, and heaviness in the limbs that last for hours
  • Flushed skin
  • Itching
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Initial euphoric rush
  • Slowed heart rate after the euphoria passes
  • Confusion and clouded thinking

Sometimes heroin is impure, causing adverse reactions in the user. Drug dealers often “cut” the heroin, by adding cheaper substances to bulk up their product. Doctors and researchers have found all sorts of substances in heroin including milk powder, caffeine, laundry detergent, and crushed up OTC (over the counter) medications.

Adverse reactions to impure heroin can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Tachycardia: elevated heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Heart palpitations

3. Changes in behavior

After your loved one starts using heroin, their behaviors will start to change. The changes can be subtle at first, but they will intensify as the heroin addiction progresses. Some of the things you may notice include:

  • Sudden personality changes: Your loved one may start acting differently when they start to use heroin. They may lose interest in old activites and withdraw from your relationship. Heroin addiction means that the drug becomes the #1 priority, which means your relationship and other important things fall to the side.
  • Lying and secret-keeping: If your loved one used to be open with you in the past, but they have recently shut you out, heroin might be responsible. Lies and secrets hurt, but don’t forget to consider why your loved one is being deceptive. They might be ashamed or afraid of your reaction to the heroin use, and therefore go to great lengths to hide it from you.
  • Mood changes: Heroin affects our nervous system in a number of ways. It can cause people to develop a new erratic way of acting, anger, irritability, and depression.
  • Missing money and valuables: Heroin isn’t cheap, and heroin addicts aren’t the best at holding down a job.  Close friends, family members, or room-mates often start to “lose” their valuables when someone gets addicted to heroin. To support such an expensive habit as heroin addiction, people often start to steal from the people they love.

4. Physical symptoms and side effects of heroin addiction

The physiological affects of heroin don’t all go away with the high. Some side effects and physical symptoms can last for days or weeks after using heroin. Look for these side effects and physical symptoms of heroin abuse:

  • Track marks – These are scars and marks left behind from syringes. Smoking or inhaling heroin doesn’t lead to track marks, only intravenous injections. Wearing longs sleeves and pants when its warm or inappropriate could be an attempt to hide these track marks.
  • Sleepiness – The individual will seem sleepy for hours after using.
  • Slurred speech
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping irregularly, at odd hours of the day
  • Scabs and sores on the skin – her
  • Nodding off, falling asleep in public

If these signs have confirmed your suspicions about your loved one using heroin, seek help. Heroin addiction is serious and usually doesn’t go away on its own. Here at, we have the experience in heroin addiction that can help you and your family recover. Please reach out, we’re here to help.