Heroin is known by several names including smack, junk, dope, diamorphine, and horse. Heroin comes in different forms such as black tar heroin (a black sticky substance) or a white or brown powder. It is an opioid drug made from morphine. Morphine is a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Opioids are a group of drugs legitimately used medicinally to treat pain. Heroin is typically used as a recreational drug because it produces immediate euphoric effects including a warm, calm feeling and an increased sense of confidence and well-being. It is an illegal substance and highly addictive. If someone you love is using heroin, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of opiate use and heroin addiction signs.
Signs of Heroin Use and Addiction
There are multiple heroin addiction signs as well as visible signs of heroin use. Visible signs of heroin use are organized under three categories – immediate symptoms, delayed symptoms, and signs of long-term use. The following heroin addiction signs are key to recognizing an addiction in an individual.
Immediate Symptoms include:
- Slurred speech
- Dry mouth
Delayed Symptoms include:
- Nodding off, sleepiness
- Foggy mental state
- Slowed breathing
Signs of Long-term Use include:
- Unusual sleeping patterns
- Drug paraphernalia including spoons, water pipes, syringes, and little baggies
- Covering the body with clothing regardless of the weather
- Scabs or sores from picking at the skin, or infection
- Missing money, thefts, criminal activity
- Weight loss
- Disinterest in work/school and disregard for responsibilities
- Needle marks “track marks” and bruising
Long-term effects can be life-threatening and can cause major health issues. Heroin use can lead to kidney and liver disease. Miscarriages, infectious diseases (from sharing needles) such as HIV/AIDS, heart infections, and death. Being aware of the heroin addiction signs may help prevent the death of a loved one.
Withdrawal symptoms from heroin are part of the reason an addict may not be able to quit on their own. Symptoms include muscle and bone pain, restlessness, abdominal cramping, yawning, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, low energy, irritability, hot and cold sweats, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Withdrawal symptoms start within six to twelve hours. Symptoms peak in two to three days and last from five to ten days. Detoxification at a rehabilitation center might be the most comfortable way to rid the body of the substance. Medical detox is available at rehabilitation centers as a way to purge the body of heroin in a monitored setting. Professionals will monitor temperature levels, blood pressure, and heart rate to keep the individual safe throughout the process. Participating in a thirty, sixty, or ninety-day program will reduce the chance of relapse. The detoxification process can last up to ten days.
Methadone is an opioid used to treat pain and as maintenance therapy or to help with detoxification in heroin users. In heroin users, it reduces withdrawal symptoms without causing the feeling of being “high” by working on parts of the spinal cord and the brain. Methadone is administered once a day and eases withdrawal for up to 36 hours. This method decreases the likelihood of relapse by reducing the cravings associated with heroin detox. Length of methadone treatment varies by person.
If you suspect a loved one is using heroin, be sure to look out for the visible signs of heroin use and be aware of heroin addiction signs. Please contact White Sands Tampa for more information on the signs of opiate use.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.