One of the most vicious drugs known to man, heroin slashes through society like a carefully-honed dagger, luring users with its promise of power and conquest but always—always—ending in the user’s demise.
In today’s pharmaceutical-funded world, children and seniors and people from all walks of society find themselves hooked on opioids like Oxycontin and Percocet. When they run out of money and family to steal from, the cheaper and readily-available heroin becomes the perfect option. Hence, heroin addiction has hit all-time highs.
For all you know, your teacher, pastor, grocer or neighbor may be hooked on heroin—or worse, your son or daughter. No matter how vehemently they assure you that they aren’t using, there are specific, telltale signs that reveal the truth: heroin is everywhere. Here are five signs of hidden heroin use.
Waning Physical Appearance
Heroin use produces a droopy physical appearance, as if the user is falling apart. As heroin is a sedative, it causes periods of drowsiness, disorientation, and an appearance as if extremities are heavy. Other physical signs include:
- Shortness of breath
- Constricted pupils
- Cycles of hyper energy followed by severe drowsiness
- Severe itching
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation, leading the user to use laxatives
- Skin infections
- Other infections
- Low immunity
These physical signs will be the most obvious indication that your loved one is using heroin, but unless you know what they are, it is easy to shrug them off as illness or growth changes. However, if these physical symptoms persist and are accompanied by other signs, it is time to confront your loved one or stage an intervention.
Grisly Goods: Heroin Paraphernalia
Another indication that a loved one is using heroin is the trail of paraphernalia left in their bedroom, bathroom, vehicle or bags. Such equipment includes:
- Needles or syringes not used for medical purposes
- Aluminum foil with burn marks
- Burned silver spoons, used to heat the substance before injection
- Missing shoelaces, belts, ties or scarves, which are often used to tie off limbs for injection sites
- Straws with burn marks
- Small plastic bags with white, powdery residue
- Water pipes or other pipes
From Jekyll to Hyde: Behavior Changes
As with all drug abuse, behavior changes are common and drastic when it comes to heroin. You may see the following:
- Lying or other deceptive behavior
- Memory lapses
- Avoiding eye contact, or looking off distantly
- Significant increase in the amount of time spent sleeping
- Slurred or garbled speech
- Withdrawal from friends or family
- Spending time with new friends who seem inclined to drug use
- Sudden and inexplicable worsening of school or work performance
- Apathy or loss of motivation
- Hostile behavior, including blaming loved ones
- Lack of interest in hobbies or usual activities
- Wearing long pants or sleeves, even in hot weather—this is to hide needle marks
Do not be fooled by this behavior. It is often cleverly covered up or brushed off with believable excuses.
A common trait in all drug addicts is their ability to go to any lengths for drugs. That means that even the most innocent do-gooder can turn to criminality in order to get their next fix. You may see early signs of this if your loved one is using heroin, including lying, cheating and stealing.
A number of symptoms indicate serious addiction, brought about as users build up tolerance to heroin and increase the frequency and quantity of consumption. These signs include:
- Drastic weight loss
- Needle track marks on arms and legs
- Infections or abscesses at injection sites
- Runny nose that can’t be explained by other medical conditions
- Cuts, bruises or scabs from skin picking
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