The signs of a person struggling with heroin addiction can vary greatly. Since we are all individuals and have different experiences throughout out lives, we tend to react and behave differently. That said, there are a handful of visible signs of heroin use and addiction that we can pay attention. In general, heroin produces a “downer” effect and can often be easily concealed. Some of the more common signs of usage are shortness of breath, dry mouth, small pupils and a general appearance that one’s limbs are heavy. On the behavioral side of things, you may notice a sudden change in actions or activity, a sense of disorientation and cyclical behavior patterns of hyper-alertness followed by sleepiness or actual nodding off.
The above-mentioned signs are not necessarily signs that are unique to heroin addiction or usage. When it comes to actual heroin usage, the signs can be more associated with usage rather than just the behavior. You will see the more obvious items such as needles or syringes when there is no medical necessity. Other items such as burned spoons or aluminum foil, missing shoe-laces (yes, really), straws with burn marks and pipes can be obvious signs that heroin use is occurring.
There are behavioral signs of heroin addiction that are specific to heroin. These are patterns such as lying or other deceit, the avoidance of eye contact, a significant increase in sleeping time and an increase in slurred or garbled speech. Although these can be attributed to other drug usage, a worsening of performance in school or work, a decreased attention to personal appearance and/or hygiene, apathy towards future goals and a lack of interest in previously important hobbies or interests are all signs that a loved one is falling deeper into a drug trap.
As the user develops tolerance and becomes a steadier user there are more definitive signs of heroin addiction of which to be aware. These include big drops in weight, constant runny nose, needle track marks and cuts and scabs on the skin from picking at it. At this stage, the heroin use is typically more obvious and will hopefully be harder to catch or ignore. While the user is likely fairly deep into their addiction, it is important to know the signs and work to offer and provide help wherever and however possible.