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  • Heroin is a drug made from morphine, which is a natural opioid derived from the opium poppy plant. 

    Many heroin users become addicted. Addiction can lead to a number of serious health risks, including a heroin overdose. To recover, addicted individuals should seek professional help at a substance abuse treatment program.

    If you’re not sure whether someone you love is using heroin, keep an eye out for these warning signs and symptoms. 

    Heroin Use Warning Signs

    People who use heroin often have heroin paraphernalia in their living spaces or cars. They may also experience heroin side effects. 

    Heroin Paraphernalia

    Most people who use heroin snort, inject, or smoke it. Each method requires different paraphernalia. 

    To snort heroin, people often use straws or rolled up dollar bills. 

    Those who inject the drug may use syringes, needles, heat sources like lighters or candles to melt the powdery drug into a liquid, spoons or bottle caps to melt the drug in, and cotton balls to strain the melted drug. 

    Like those who inject heroin, heroin smokers require lighters or other heat sources. They’ll also need cigarettes, rolling papers, or pipes. In addition, many people use aluminum foil to hold the vapor as it’s being smoked. 

    Heroin Side Effects

    Someone who uses heroin may experience side effects such as:

    • dry mouth
    • drowsiness
    • confusion
    • constipation
    • itchiness
    • chills
    • nausea and/or vomiting
    • tiny pupils, also known as “heroin eyes” or “heroin pupils
    • track marks, needle marks, abscesses, or scabs at injection sites 
    • nervousness
    • trouble sleeping

    A heroin user may also shift between feeling wide awake and nodding off due to drowsiness. Some people call this condition “heroin nod.”

    Finally, those who share needles or other paraphernalia may contract infectious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis C. 

    Heroin Addiction Symptoms

    If your loved one uses heroin and develops an addiction, they may display symptoms such as:

    • sudden weight loss
    • decreased motivation 
    • secretiveness 
    • avoidance of friends and family members
    • avoidance of work or school
    • financial troubles
    • tolerance, or needing increasingly higher doses of the drug to feel the desired effects
    • physical dependence, or needing the drug to function normally

    Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

    People who are physically dependent on heroin and stop using it may experience withdrawal symptoms like: 

    • restlessness
    • cold flashes with goose bumps
    • aching muscles and/or bones
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea

    Learn more about Heroin Withdrawal

    Heroin Addiction Treatment Options 

    If someone you love is suffering from heroin addiction, recovery is possible at a drug abuse treatment center. 

    These recovery centers offer treatment services such as:

    • medical detox, in which a team of medical professionals can help your loved one safely get the heroin out of their system while they experience the effects of withdrawal
    • therapy, in which a mental health professional can help your loved one identify triggers for drug use and reduce the risk of relapse
    • peer support groups, in which your loved one can share coping strategies with other people recovering from drug addictions

    Read to find out more about Heroin Addiction Treatment Programs

    To learn more about substance use disorder treatment options for heroin addiction, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Signs of Heroin Use | Easy Read
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - What Are the Medical Complications of Chronic Heroin Use
    U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Heroin

    Medically Reviewed by
    Davis Sugar, M.D.
    on July 6, 2022
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