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Heroin Addiction in Teens: What Parents Need to Know to Spot the Signs

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Heroin Addiction in Teens: What Parents Need to Know to Spot the Signs

Adolescence. We’ve all been there. You know it can be a confusing and challenging time for your teen, which sometimes puts a strain on your relationship with them. We want the best for our children regardless of how old they are, and that means being educated about the dangers they face, especially when it comes to drugs.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 29.7 percent of high school seniors have easy access to heroin, and 12.6 percent of the eighth grade population can easily obtain heroin.

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While heroin addiction may not seem on the radar for your teen, consider these symptoms and behaviors as a point of reference in case you become concerned about your teen being drawn into today’s drug culture.

Physical Signs

Heroin works by altering the brain’s chemistry. Heroin latches on to opioid receptors—parts of the brain associated with pain perception and arousal—and creates a rush of exhilaration. But with that exhilaration comes countless negative side effects. These are just a few of them:

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  • Dry mouth
  • Inability to remain awake or asleep, constantly falling in and out of a sleep stupor
  • Slowed breathing
  • Cold flashes
  • Vomiting
  • Aching muscle pains
  • Restlessness
  • Liver disease
  • Stronger susceptibility to contracting HIV and other life-threatening diseases
  • Malnutrition

If your teen is using heroin, you may be able to spot these signs as well:

  • Bruised and scabbed arms and/or legs
  • Runny nose or nosebleeds
  • Small pupils

Behavioral Symptoms

Of course, physical signs are not always apparent. Sometimes they can easily be attributed to sickness or other environmental factors. If you suspect your teen is using heroin, take a closer look at their behavior. Heroin users often exhibit these behavioral symptoms:

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  • Change in normal routine
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Sudden change of interests
  • Drop in academic performance

Teens desperate for drugs will do almost anything to get a fix, including selling off their belongings for drug money. If you notice expensive items disappearing from your house in addition to some of these symptoms, it may be time to talk to your teen.

Self-medicating as a form of stress relief is not uncommon. Your teen may be suffering from mental health issues and has decided to turn to heroin for help, but what teens don’t realize is that drug use often leads to other mental health conditions or exacerbates existing problems. These conditions include but are not limited to the following:

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  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Eating disorders

Evidence from Heroin Use

Heroin paraphernalia can include burnt spoons or foil, needles, and rubber tubing, as well as lighters and cotton balls to help cook and inject heroin. Don’t let adolescence be an excuse for accepting secretive behavior. If expensive items begin to go missing or you start spotting suspicious burnt materials in their bedroom or bathroom trashcan, your teen may be experimenting with heroin.

It’s not easy for users to admit they’re struggling with heroin addiction, especially teens. They may be afraid of withdrawing or being rejected by their peers, or they may not even be aware they have a problem at all. In such cases, you need to be there for your teen to do the right thing and reach out for help.

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Spotting addiction is not always easy, but once you recognize there is something wrong, don’t wait for an overdose to occur to address the problem. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable during this stage of their lives. They won’t admit it, but they need your help. If you are concerned your teen may be using heroin or other illicit drugs, contact Pyramid Healthcare to learn more about how we can help you and your teen recover from this life-threatening roadblock.

Featured photo credit: Kamira/Bigstock via bigstockphoto.com

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Heroin Addiction in Teens: What Parents Need to Know to Spot the Signs
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