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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 December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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