Signs And Symptoms Of Heroin Abuse

A person who abuses Heroin experiences outward changes that others, including friends, family, and doctors, typically notice. Additionally, the person will likely experience feelings and changes within their body that only they can tell are happening.

The signs of Heroin abuse manifest as physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms. Some of these signs may include weight loss, mood swings, and hallucinations.

Physical Signs And Symptoms Of Heroin Abuse

Physically, Heroin induces changes, some being out of a person’s control. The person may nod in and out of consciousness, roll their eyes back in their head, and stop a conversation mid-sentence due to slower thinking patterns and body movements.

Physical Heroin addiction symptoms include changes in a person’s appearance, such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor hygiene
  • Wearing oversized or baggy clothing to hide their arms, legs, or other locations that may have injection marks

Most people abusing Heroin will also have flu-like symptoms. You may hear them sniffling or see them rubbing their nose. They may also scratch themselves in various places on the body since Opioids trigger an itching sensation.

Behavioral Signs And Symptoms Of Heroin Abuse

Many behavioral changes begin appearing soon after someone starts abusing Heroin. These changes are noticeable and should not be ignored. Behavioral changes connected to Heroin addiction may include:

  • Personality and attitude changes
  • Changes in social group
  • Changes in hobbies or extracurricular activities
  • Declining performance at work or school
  • Avoiding interactions with family or friends
  • Isolating themselves
  • Being secretive
  • Mood swings

Psychological Signs And Symptoms Of Heroin Abuse

Some people begin using Heroin to cope with their psychological symptoms. Others acquire psychological symptoms because of using Heroin. Common psychological signs of Heroin misuse include:

  • Extreme emotional instability
  • Confused thinking
  • Excessive sadness, worry, or fear
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts

Short-Term Effects Of Heroin Abuse

When Heroin enters the brain, it attaches to Opioid receptors that relieve pain. The binding sites or receptors are large and open, and when Heroin lands on them, a person experiences an immediate sense of euphoria and intense pleasure. Recognizable short-term effects may include the following:

  • Warm flushing sensation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Slow speech
  • Slow cognitive functioning

Short-term effects typically last a few hours, depending on a variety of factors such as ingestion method, substance purity, and the existence of tolerance.

Long-Term Effects Of Heroin Abuse

Chronic Heroin use can cause impairment and dysfunction in the following:

  • Decision making
  • Emotion regulation
  • Stress management
  • Maintenance of healthy relationships
  • Work/school performance

Individuals who use Heroin are also at higher risk for long-term symptoms, such as:

  • Abscesses at injection sites
  • Diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C spread by needle
  • Collapsed veins
  • Bacterial infections

Signs Of A Heroin Use Disorder

The longer someone misuses Heroin, the more likely they are to develop a Heroin addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines eleven criteria that are indicative of addiction, including:

  • Taking larger amounts or over a longer period than intended
  • Wanting to cut down or control Heroin use but being unable to
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining and using Heroin or recovering from its effects
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home
  • Craving or having a strong desire to use Heroin
  • Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of Heroin use
  • Misusing Heroin in situations in which it is physically hazardous
  • Continuing to use despite having a recurrent physical or psychological problem linked to Heroin use
  • Continuing to use Heroin despite having recurrent interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by it
  • Developing a tolerance to Heroin
  • Experiencing Heroin withdrawal symptoms

Consequences Of Heroin Abuse

No matter how a person ingests Heroin, it is a drug that can quickly lead to a Heroin use disorder. There are multiple consequences of short- and long-term Heroin abuse.

Medical Consequences

Long-term Heroin abuse can impact the functioning of the brain and body. It can also lead to impairments that may be irreversible even after someone quits misusing Heroin. Specific consequences include:

Experiencing a Heroin overdose is a known risk for those who abuse Heroin. In 2021, 9,173 overdose deaths involved Heroin misuse.

Mental Health Consequences

Mental health symptoms may develop or worsen among those abusing Heroin. Heroin use disorders often accompany mental health disorders. Co-occurring disorders include:

Personal Consequences

Heroin abuse may eventually start affecting other areas of a person’s life and change their day-to-day routine.

This can include experiencing:

  • Job loss
  • Loss of home, car, and other personal items due to financial strain
  • Fractured relationships with romantic partners, family, and friends

These personal consequences can deeply affect a person’s circumstances and quality of life. If you are struggling with Heroin addiction and have started to experience some of these changes, it may be time to seek treatment.

Looking For Help With A Heroin Addiction?

If you’re ready to take the first step toward recovery, help for overcoming Heroin addiction is available.

Contact a treatment provider today. They can help answer your questions and explore your treatment options, getting you on track for a healthier, addiction-free future.