Symptoms of Heroin Abuse

About Heroin Abuse

The statistics on heroin use by individuals age 12 and older in the United States are quite shocking. It is reported that over 4.7 million have admitted to using heroin at one point. It is important to note that heroin addiction can happen after only one use, so the potential for developing a drug addiction is very high. With figures like these, it is no wonder that many families are not aware of the risks taken by their loved ones experimenting with heroin. Symptoms of heroin abuse can be easy to miss early on, and any individual with concerns about the well being of their family should take steps to learn the signs and symptoms of addiction.

The key to recovery is getting help, and family members are often in the best position to step in and offer the support needed for inpatient heroin rehab in Huntington Beach. Trying to figure out whether someone is showing signs and symptoms of heroin abuse can be tricky. Most with drug addictions become adept at hiding their illicit drug use from others. Some addictions, like alcoholism, are more visible to those around the addict, but symptoms of heroin abuse can be tougher to recognize. Heroin addicts are often so skilled at concealing their addictions that few know that they are being lied to and deceived on a regular basis.

The Reality of Heroin Abuse

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symptoms of heroin abuse

Heroin is known for its ability to hook users quickly, causing heroin dependency in a very short period of time. Most individuals abusing heroin are able to hide their heroin dependency for a while, or until symptoms of heroin abuse become apparent. One of the biggest issues that family members face when trying to uncover the reasons for symptoms of drug abuse is that their loved ones are in denial of the health risks. Drug addiction can cause people to develop skills for masking the symptoms of heroin abuse so well, that the only telltale sign will be drug paraphernalia found stashed away.

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Evidence of Heroin Abuse

While most heroin addicts can manage to hide or dismiss some of the physical signs and symptoms of heroin abuse, the discovery of drug paraphernalia is often the first warning sign to family members. Individuals abusing heroin become very inventive and can manipulate household items to fuel their drive for drugs. Sometimes it is the bottom of a soda can or spoon that appears to be burned while heating heroin for smoking. Other times, it is syringes and belts found in places hidden around the house. For family members and friends finding these evidences of heroin abuse, the best thing to do is get professional help.


Examples of heroin paraphernalia:

  • Small glass pipes
  • Burnt spoons or foil
  • Syringes
  • Rubber bands or belts in suspicious places
  • Small bags or balloons
  • Lighters or candles
  • Filter materials such as cotton balls
  • Straws or empty pen cases
  • Trace amounts of white powder

Physical Symptoms of Heroin Abuse


Heroin enters the brain and brainstem, binding itself with opioid receptors and changing basic bodily functions such as blood pressure and respirations. Heroin also creates an intense high and sexual arousal. The signs and symptoms of heroin abuse can be recognized if one suspects heroin addiction in a loved one. Some of these symptoms of heroin abuse are the following:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Shallow, slowed breathing
  • Heavy eyes and sleepiness
  • Flushed, warm skin
  • Injection marks and scabs or scars
  • Unexplained weight loss
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Behavioral Symptoms of Heroin Abuse


Continued heroin abuse changes an individuals demeanor and behavior over a very short period of time. Should family members notice any of these concerning changes, an effort should be made to reach out to drug addiction counselors and gain insight on how to stage an intervention for drug addiction. Some of the behavioral symptoms of heroin abuse are the following:

  • Violent mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slurring of words
  • Non-stop scratching of skin
  • Detachment from friends and family
  • Loss of all motivation
  • Lack of self control
  • Stealing and lying
  • Trouble with the law
  • Poor personal hygiene

Effects of Heroin Abuse


The effect that heroin abuse has on an individual will depend on several factors. The amount of heroin used and the length of the abuse will have a direct impact on the health risks experienced. Also, co-addiction and genetics will also dictate how a person’s body responds to heroin exposure. There are many major health risks that can arise when an individual is dealing with heroin addiction. Some of the more common health effects of heroin abuse are the following:

  • Advanced liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Blood poisoning
  • Seizures
  • Skin infections and abscesses
  • Endocarditis (Infections of the heart)
  • Chronic respiratory illnesses
  • Blood clots and stokes
  • Overdose
  • Death

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