Heroin is the third most abused drug in the world. There are several reasons for this, but the main reason being is because of the relative ease with which it can be obtained on the street, as well as the cost provided per dose. Heroin abuse usually stems from an already existing dependency on Opioids created by the use and abuse of prescription painkillers, which are freely prescribed by a wide range of medical instances for the treatment of everything from a simple headache to a fractured bone. Because of this, by the time most patients turn to Heroin, a certain degree of tolerance has already been developed.
One of the main problems presented by the use of Heroin is that the person suffering from an addiction rarely, if ever, knows how much of the drug is being consumed. This is because Heroin is mixed, or cut, with different substances prior to it reaching the streets. These substances can be anything from table sugar to chemicals that can produce a higher level of toxicity of the drug.
Heroin, which can be injected, snorted or smoked, is a “downer,” which means that it affects the pleasure centers of the brain, causing a sensation of relaxation and euphoria or happiness. As with other Opiates, including those which are prescribed medically, Heroin affects the body’s ability to feel pain, which is why its use is so common amongst those who have already become dependent on painkillers such as Morphine, Hydrocodone and other such Opiates.
The symptoms of Heroin abuse in a loved one are usually quite noticeable, although they can sometimes be explained away by other conditions. Some of these symptoms include a shortness of breath, which is common in all stages of dependency and can be the main cause of death during an overdose; a dry mouth, and pinpoint pupils, which is when the pupils of the patient’s eyes become constricted due to the hypersensitivity to light produced by the drug. When a person is high on Heroin, he or she can present with sudden and unexpected changes in behavior, sometimes becoming violent and able to commit a crime. The patient will also appear to be disoriented and will present with cycles of heightened alertness which are alternated with sudden periods of sleep. The person suffering from a Heroin addiction might also seem as if his or her limbs have suddenly become very heavy, appearing very sluggish and lethargic.
As mentioned, these symptoms can also be present in a plethora of other health issues, which is why, when looking for a definitive answer to a loved one’s Heroin abuse, other signs should be considered, such as the possession of syringes used to inject the drug, together with baggies containing unknown powders. Finding silver spoons, tin foil, straws and other items with burn marks can also point towards a person abusing Heroin, together with a number of behavioral changes.
The abuse of Heroin is almost always noticeable in a person’s behavior. People which have otherwise always been straightforward and honest will suddenly start lying and avoiding direct eye contact to cover any traces of abuse and other activities. An increase in the hours of sleep and slurred speech, together with a sudden drop in grades or a mediocre performance at work which can lead to expulsion or being fired, can also be a sign of abuse. People who abuse Heroin will also find themselves withdrawing from friends and family, while avoiding contact with any new people in their lives. The person suffering from an addiction will steal and borrow money from friends and family to support his or her habit while also presenting hostile, and, at times, violent behavior towards those same exact people. Finally, the loss of interest in previously favorite activities that the individual used to enjoy, together with a change in attire and hygiene that includes the use of long sleeves to cover up injection marks or bruises, can be surefire signs of a problem.
Heroin dependency is the worst form of addiction. It means the body has already built up a tolerance to the drug and will demand higher and higher doses, more and more often, to achieve even a basic level of functioning, leading to an acceleration of damage to the body and mind of the addict. Even so, there are treatment options that will lead to sobriety and a more positive outlook on. The first step towards recovery is detox, a process in which the person suffering from an addiction will have to endure the symptoms of withdrawal. It is imperative this process takes place under medical supervision, otherwise complications can and will, arise, placing the patient’s life in danger.
Instinct will play a significant role in determining if your loved one has a problem with Heroin abuse. In reality, by the time friends and family start suspecting there is a problem, it is highly likely the problem has already taken root. This is why the family of the loved one should intervene in helping the addicted person receive the most appropriate treatment.