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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 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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