The heroin problem in the U.S. has become an epidemic. The number of people admitting to the use of heroin has grown significantly over the past few years. Overdose and death rates related to heroin and other opioids have gone up exponentially, as well. This increase is because of the increasing number of people with substance use disorder, as well as the strength and potency of drugs now being sold on the streets.
It’s important for parents and other people who believe their loved one could be at risk for addiction to learn more about the drug, its effects and the signs of use to look for. Addiction is viewed as a chronic disease, meaning there are treatment options and ways to manage it, but people struggling with addiction are often reluctant even to say they have a problem and take the steps necessary for treatment. That’s why identifying red flags can be useful for their loved ones.
As well as the actual drug, there are also slang names for using it, and the tools people may use to get high on heroin. The phrase chasing the dragon is commonly used to describe inhaling heroin vapors to get high while injecting heroin into a vein using a needle is described as mainlining. If someone injects heroin into their skin instead of into a vein, it’s called skin-popping. Mixing heroin and cocaine is typically called speedballing. When heroin is combined with other substances, ranging from household substances to deadly substances like fentanyl, it’s called cutting it.
These items are only in a heroin kit if a person injects the drug. Paraphernalia may be different if someone smokes or snorts the drug. For smoking the drug as an example, a heroin kit might include a glass pipe of some type.
The drug itself is sold as a crumbly powder, and it may be off-white or dark brown. There’s also something called black tar heroin, which looks much like the name indicates. It’s sticky and dark brown or black. Other elements of a heroin kit may include rubber tubing or belts, both of which are used to tie-off and make veins larger, or lighters.
If you have a child or a loved one that you believe is using the drug or you find a heroin kit, it’s important to understand that there are ways you can help them. People struggling with an addicted to heroin don’t even necessarily have to voluntarily go into treatment for it to be effective. Keeping an eye out for signs of active heroin use is important if you have any suspicions at all.
Along with the items in a heroin kit, there are other signs of drug use as well. When someone uses heroin, they’ll first feel euphoric, and they may appear to be energetic or to have a falsely inflated sense of well-being. Then after a few minutes, they’ll start to appear drowsy. They may nod off, have coordination problems or seem slow and heavy. Longer-term signs of heroin use can include track marks if they inject the drug, and strange sleeping and eating patterns. Heroin users may become secretive and withdraw from family, friends, and responsibilities.
If you believe someone in your life could be struggling with heroin abuse, you aren’t alone. There are resources available to you, including the comprehensive treatment options available nationwide through The Recovery Village. Whether you have questions about addiction itself, or things like using insurance to pay for rehab, our professionals can give you the answers you’re searching for.
Have more questions about Heroin abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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