What if someone you love was killing themselves and you didn’t even know?
Heroin abuse can often appear like a silent killer in the lives of our loved ones. After all, many of us don’t know how to recognize signs of heroin use until it is too late.
However, recognizing these signs is the first step towards saving someone’s life. Keep reading to learn what these signs of abuse are and how you can help out!
Ease of Addiction
Before you can understand the signs of heroin addiction, it’s important to answer a fundamental question. And that question is this: why is heroin so addictive?
This has to do with the nature of the drug and how it is usually taken. First, heroin gets to your brain with more speed than most other drugs. This alone means that someone may become addicted only after one or two sessions with heroin.
Second, many people inject heroin directly into their veins. This is meant to be a practical way of getting the drugs into their system quicker. However, this opens the user to additional risks of overdosing or even using dirty needles (more on these threats later).
Suffice it to say that heroin use is dangerous and potentially addictive no matter how much (or how little) someone is using it. Recognizing the signs of abuse means that you can offer a meaningful intervention before it destroys someone’s life.
Chasing the High
We’ve answered why heroin is so addictive. However, that leaves another question: why are users using something so dangerous and illegal?
After all, someone wanting to take the edge off could do many other things that are safer and legal. Why are they chasing this particular high?
This is largely due to the nature of the heroin high. Users often describe it as a euphoric dream state in which they are beyond pain or worry. And on top of that, a heroin high may last for hours.
Between the potency of the experience and its long-lasting effects, many users keep coming back to this dangerous drug. However, each session puts their physical and mental health in serious danger, and this may even serve as a gateway to other drugs.
Now that you know more about why heroin is so enticing and addictive, it’s important to learn what the chief signs of heroin use (and abuse) are.
Physical signs are some of the most obvious signs of heroin use. This may include vomiting, nausea, constipation, and sudden bouts of sleepiness.
Other signs include flushed skin, dry mouth, constricting pupils, and intense itching. Users may also experience memory loss, confusion, and difficulty in making major decisions. Finally, the user may lose control and both act and look very different from what you’re expecting.
Obviously, some of these signs may be signs of other problems. But if you notice multiple signs, it is more likely that there is a problem. This is especially true if you also notice significant lifestyle signs of abuse.
One of the biggest signs of addiction is that someone becomes focused on little else except their next heroin injection. However, they are unlikely to verbalize this need unless they are truly desperate. You should instead see if they become focused on getting extra money or start hanging out with people you don’t recognize.
You may also see a user regularly wearing long sleeves regardless of the temperature outside. This may be a sign that they are trying to hide injections on their arms.
An addict may also start to withdraw from friends and colleagues. This may culminate in major events such as losing their job.
If someone is suddenly quiet and withdrawn, it may not be depression. It may be something as serious as heroin abuse.
What Makes Heroin So Dangerous?
Obviously, addiction to just about anything can be very scary. But it’s important to know why heroin addiction is so particularly dangerous and damaging.
If someone is pregnant, heroin can cause a miscarriage. This alone is something that may utterly wreck someone’s life.
In other cases, someone may die from a drug overdose. Injecting a drug makes overdosing very easy, and someone may chase the high to a point that they simply inject too much.
Speaking of injections, the needles are often dirty and possibly infected. Sharing needles with other users may lead to someone getting hepatitis and HIV.
After enough time, heroin abuse affects every part of the body. Users may develop strokes or heart attacks as well as heart disease and liver disease.
Throw in the fact that heroin may be laced with other drugs and there is no telling exactly what may happen. This is why it’s important to identify and treat abuse as soon as possible!
The Importance of Getting Help
As we have noted, you may literally save someone’s life by detecting and treating their heroin abuse. However, this may be a long process that involves many different groups.
For example, a doctor is best equipped to diagnose health problems, and a treatment center is best equipped to treat addiction. But an abuser is unlikely to willingly go to a professional right away.
Instead, you may need to stage an intervention. This can be as simple as a one-on-one conversation or a large intervention with multiple friends and family members.
One reason such interventions are effective is that it opens up the eyes of the drug addict. They may not see their behavior as a big deal because they think their drug use does not affect anybody else.
An intervention helps them see that hurting themselves also hurts other people. And this may provide the necessary motivation to seek help.
Keep in mind that acute withdrawal may last a week and post-acute withdrawal may last for many months. In short, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of support to help someone heal.
Signs of Heroin Use: The Next Step
Now you know more about detecting the signs of heroin use. But do you know how else to take care of those you love?
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