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3 Signs of Heroin Addiction in Adults

3 Signs of Heroin Addiction in Adults

Heroin users become dependent on the drug quickly, both physically and psychologically. With such a dangerous dependency, the risk of overdosing is high.

If you suspect a friend or loved one is using heroin, you need to be able to recognize the signs. Spotting signs and taking action can help save lives. From finding drug paraphernalia to noticing physical and behavioral changes, you may be able to help your loved one take the first step towards recovery.

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Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia

Heroin can be sniffed, smoked, or injected, though the most common method is by injection. Depending on how someone is using heroin, you may spot different paraphernalia lying around the house or in a frequently used vehicle. These items include but are not limited to:

  • Syringes (these are a major warning sign if the person doesn’t need needles for medical purposes)
  • Rubber tubing, belts, rope, or other materials that could be used as a tourniquet (to enlarge veins for easier injecting)
  • Lighters, matches, or candles (to melt the heroin)
  • Dirty or burnt spoons or bowls
  • Q-tip buds or cigarette filters
  • Small metal or glass pipes (for smoking heroin)
  • Aluminum foil shaped into a straw (for smoking)
  • Empty pen cases and rolled dollar bills (for snorting or smoking)
  • Small, colorful baggies or brightly colored balloons that are tied but not inflated (to hide the drug)
  • Laxatives (to relieve the symptom of constipation)

Heroin users often keep the paraphernalia in a kit called a rig, outfit, or “the works.” They may stash it in their bedrooms or bathrooms.

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You may also find remnants of the drug itself. The appearance varies from an off-white to tan or brown color and is crumbly or powdery. Black tar heroin, like its label implies, is sticky.

Physical Changes

Immediately after using heroin, signs include

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  • Flushed skin
  • Constricted pupils lasting approximately four to five hours
  • Slurred speech
  • Disoriented behavior
  • Nodding off suddenly, increased drowsiness, or drifting in and out of consciousness
  • Slowed or shallow breathing (contributing factor to a lethal overdose)
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Itching
  • Runny nose
  • Blue lips or fingernails, clammy skin and shaking (overdose indicators)

Other physical signs or illnesses that may indicate long-term use:

  • Needle marks, scars, bruises, or scabs (usually noticeable on hands and arms but may be visible on the neck or ankles)
  • Skin infections or rashes
  • Constipation
  • HIV/AIDS or hepatitis

Many addicts go through a cycle of use and withdrawal, suffering physical withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea, stomach and muscle cramps, and tremors.

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Behavioral Changes

You may notice drastic changes in a loved one that can happen suddenly or over a period of time. Be aware of these changes:

  • Eating less or weight loss
  • Changes in mood, including erratic behavior and aggressiveness
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and social activities
  • A new crowd of friends (other users or dealers)
  • Anxiousness or restlessness
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Worn down or gaunt appearance
  • Wearing long sleeves, even in warm weather (to cover needle marks)
  • Confusion, difficulty thinking or making decisions
  • Sleeping more frequently or at odd hours
  • Sudden drops in energy

More complex behavioral changes include:

  • Acting secretive, lying, making excuses for excessive sleep, loss of employment, or the inability to explain where they’ve been.
  • Manipulation and loss of relationships with family and friends. Secrecy regarding new friends.
  • Money problems, like a drained bank account. A user may ask for a loan or frequent small amounts of money. Stealing money and valuables from family and friends.
  • Ongoing problems with law enforcement, leading to hefty fines or jail time.

Heroin addiction is a growing problem, and once someone begins using, it becomes very difficult to quit this life-threatening habit alone. Recognizing the signs of use and taking action can help your loved one.

Featured photo credit: Jake Melara from Magdeleine.co via magdeleine.co

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Dan Gellman

Director of Marketing for High Focus Centers

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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