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3 Signs of Heroin Addiction in Adults

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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:

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  • 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 November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

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Thanksgiving: It’s About The Simple Things

Thanksgiving, a day of pure gluttony, football, and possible uncomfortable situations with family members that you may or may not like. Oh, yeah, and the whole “know and reflect on what it is to be thankful and grateful.”

During the holiday season many people forget what this time of year is bout and are too worried about getting the “early-bird” deals on Black Friday and making sure that they have the perfect gifts for their loved ones. I am sort of a “Grinch” when it comes to the holiday season, mostly because of that mentality by many of the poeple around me.

But instead of being grinch-like this holiday season, I decided to simplify things and get back to what this time of year is actually is about; being thankful for what I have and what I can give.

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Simplify

I’m not a “minimalist” in any real sense, but in the last few months the talks of Patrick Rhone and others have got me to rethink my stance. Can you really have too much stuff?

Absolutely.

And with all that stuff comes the burden and the weight of it on your back.

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If you feel that the things around you are out of control, maybe it’s time to simplify and be thankful and grateful for what you have and use. Here are a few things that you can do to simplify:

  • You know those gadgets in the drawer that you said you were going to sell? Well, time to get the listing on eBay and sell them. Or, send them to a place like Gazelle. Even if they are old and won’t get money, you can at least recycle them.
  • Get rid of things you don’t need. Like old books, clothes, tools, etc. Have something that’s been laying around forever with no use? Donate it to a charity or church. If you aren’t using it, someone else could be.
  • Find your productivity tools and stick with them. Use tools and gadgets that serve multiple purposes so you can simplify your tool set.

Be Mindful

You don’t have to be a master Buddhist or meditator to be mindful (although, it can definitely help). Being mindful comes down to being cognizant of the present and not keeping yourself in the past or future. It’s about living in the moment and being aware of yourself and everything around you. It’s just being.

Without getting too “California” on you, it is super important to be mindful during the holiday rush. Rather than worrying about the things that you forgot at your house on the way to relatives or thinking about the next stop in your endless holiday travels, just breath and think about what you are currently doing.

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Spend the time with your family and friends and don’t crush the moment. Try not to concentrate so hard on getting the perfect photo of the “awesome moment” of the day and actually miss the awesome moment.

Being mindful over the holidays will help you be with your families, friends, and yourself allowing you to enjoy your time.

Reflect

As the year is coming to a close (yes, it really is that close!) it’s a great time to start reflecting on what you have accomplished and what you haven’t. Within the next few weeks we will have a more throrough reflection article here at Lifehack.org, but reflecting every now and then over your holiday break is a great way to see where you have been doing well in your life and where you need to improve.

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Reflection shouldn’t be used to “get down” on yourself. Reflection should be used to take an honset inventory of what you have accomplished, how you handeled situations, and what you can do better. If you journal everyday (a daily form of reflection) it may be a good time to start going over some of the things that you have written and start to put together a year’s end journal entry. I mean, how else will you write your autobiography?

But, seriously, reflecting on yourself makes you aware of your successes and faults and helps you plan and make goals for the coming year. It makes you a better person.

So, while you are stuffing your face with bird, stuffing, and mashed taters’, remember that the holidays are much more than the superficial things. Use this holiday to become a better person.

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Featured photo credit: Libby Penner via unsplash.com

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