Physical Signs of Heroin Use

Get the 411 on the physical signs of heroin use

While most people in the United States are aware that heroin addiction is a major health problem and many also recognize the problem as a growing public health crisis, the vast majority of people do not know what the physical signs of heroin use look like. In fact, many people fail to recognize any of the signs of opiate use for what they are. In order to combat heroin addiction in an effective way and get yourself or another person you care about into heroin addiction treatment as soon as possible, it is important to be able to recognize the physical signs of heroin use as well as the general signs of opiate use. And if, after knowing all of these signs, you are still unsure whether a person has a heroin addiction, being able to recognize heroin withdrawal symptoms can help as well.

What Are the Physical Signs of Heroin Use?

When a person begins using heroin, whether it is casual, recreational drug use or due to a full-blown addiction to heroin, there will be certain physical signs and symptoms of that drug use and abuse. Track marks are the most commonly recognized of the physical signs of heroin use. These marks are essentially injection sites that can be found in the arms, legs, or even the neck and elsewhere in people who have experienced collapsed veins in other parts of the body.

Sometimes the injection sites are used so often by heroin addicts that infections can occur. Frequent skin infections or infections in the blood due to constant injections are common physical symptoms of heroin use and addiction. Sometimes in extreme cases, these blood infections can extend into the heart and the lining of the heart. These infections are extremely dangerous and can be fatal.

There are also less extreme physical signs of heroin use as well. Some of these include:

  • Drastic weight loss
  • Sleeping a great deal or falling asleep easily
  • Limbs that seem heavy or difficult to move
  • Low appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constricted (small) pupils
  • Flushed or red skin
  • Poor hygiene

What Are Some of the Other Signs of Heroin Use?

In addition to the physical signs of heroin use, there are many general signs of opiate use. Some of them can include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Memory problems
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Slurred speech
  • Personality changes
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Secretive behavior
  • Social isolation
  • Anger or agitation when asked about behavior

What Are Some of the Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Because heroin use of any kind will often lead to the development of an addiction, it is also important to know the heroin withdrawal symptoms. A heroin addict may not be able to have access to heroin whenever their body craves it and this can lead to negative reactions in the body, known as withdrawals. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Increased appetite
  • Depression
  • Fevers and sweating
  • Anger and aggression
  • DTs
  • Seizures
  • Organ failure
  • Racing heart
  • Labored and rapid breathing

What Can Be Done About Heroin Use and Addiction?

Once you are able to recognize a heroin abuse problem or addiction, you may wonder what the next step in the process is. Firstly, it is important to know that you should never try to deal with a heroin addiction alone. The aforementioned withdrawal symptoms can range from just uncomfortable to severe and dangerous. Because of this, the detox process (getting heroin out of the system) should be undergone in a medical detox treatment program.

Medical detox is a type of treatment in which doctors and nurses manage the heroin detox process and can treat withdrawal symptoms as they occur. This means that if a person experiences a seizure during detox, they will be on-site and ready to intervene to stop the seizure and ensure no permanent health damage occurs. Following medical detox, a heroin addict can continue their recovery and treatment in an inpatient treatment setting (continue staying in the treatment center full-time) or they can go home and go to outpatient treatment and therapy.

Heroin use and addiction are major problems that should be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent permanent negative health consequences. Knowing the physical signs of heroin use as well as the other signs and symptoms of use and addiction, you can be sure that you are doing everything you can to overcome a heroin addiction.

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