How Do I Know If Someone Is On Heroin?

How to know whether or not someone is on heroin is an all-too-common question today, when much of the U.S. is facing a heroin epidemic. Every day there are tragic stories of people who overdose on heroin, and many ultimately die. Public policymakers, law enforcement, and families are searching for ways to deal with the heroin crisis that’s occurring in some many places in the United States, including when it impacts their own loved ones.

Research shows the use of heroin has been significantly increasing over the past decade, and the number of people who used heroin for the first time in 2012, when some of the most recent statistics are available, doubled from the number in 2006. What was once thought of as a drug primarily used in inner cities is now becoming increasingly common in suburbs and rural areas.

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Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs available. It’s processed from morphine, which comes from certain types of poppy plants. Heroin usually comes as a white or somewhat brown powder that’s cut with other materials.

With very pure heroin, smoking or snorting the drug is possible, while heroin that’s not pure is typically injected directly into the user’s veins.

Heroin is classified as an opioid, and it may also be referred to by slang names like dope, smack, and junk.

In some cases, users will mix heroin with crack cocaine, which is commonly called a speedball.

If you’re wondering whether or not someone you know is on heroin, it can be helpful to have a general understanding of how the drug impacts the user’s brain, because that also indicates some of the symptoms the person may show when using.

After taking a dose of heroin, it reaches the brain very quickly, and it then binds to opioid receptors. It mainly impacts the receptors involved in the management of pain and pleasure feelings, and these opioid receptors are found in the brain stem, which is where many of the body’s essential functions are controlled, including breathing and blood pressure.

It’s important to understand if you’re wondering whether someone you know is on heroin that it’s incredibly addictive. Heroin is not usually the kind of drug that can be done recreationally or socially. Many people become addicted after trying it only one time, and those individuals who do use heroin will almost always need intensive professional treatment.

If you are questioning whether or not someone is on heroin or using heroin, you might see there is a link with prescription opioids. Many people who become addicted to heroin were first prescribed an opioid pain medication, such as OxyContin or Vicodin. The effects of these prescriptions on the brain are similar to heroin, and misusing these drugs even when they’re prescribed often leads to using heroin. In fact, according to the federal government, almost 80 percent of Americans who use heroin say they misused prescription opioids before heroin.

When someone first does heroin, they will experience a euphoric rush or high. Along with that high, which is short-lived, there are other physical symptoms and signs that someone is on heroin.

These can include flushed skin and dry mouth. People who have just used heroin may also seem to nod off for no reason at all, and alternate between consciousness and semi-consciousness.  Their mental function tends to appear clouded and confused as well.

Nodding off is one of the most common and observable signs that can indicate if someone is on heroin. It’s difficult for people to stay in a conversation, they may have a hard time remembering things that happened just moments before, and it seems as if they’re falling asleep.

When someone is on heroin, they also may have tiny pupils, often as small as a pinpoint.

Eventually, other signs and symptoms of heroin use may appear. Someone who uses heroin over a prolonged period may experience abscesses where they’re injecting the drug, collapsed veins and various infections. Like other opioid users, people who use heroin may also have constipation and digestive issue.

Eventually, long-term health issues with heroin use can include diseases of the liver, kidney, and lungs, as well as infections around the heart.

Another way you might be able to determine whether or not someone is on heroin is to look for withdrawal symptoms. If a person takes a smaller dose of heroin than normal or stops cold turkey, their body will respond to the physical dependence to the drug.

Signs that someone is on heroin and experience withdrawal can include pains throughout the body, cold flashes, goose bumps, involuntary leg movements, diarrhea, vomiting, insomnia, restlessness and mental issues such as depression, anxiety or paranoia.

Using heroin, since it is so addictive, is one of those drugs that can be difficult to hide from the people around the addict.

First, if someone is on heroin, paraphernalia is often discovered, particularly if they inject the drug. Heroin paraphernalia can include little bowls used to dissolve heroin in water, cotton, and needles.

Track marks are also one of the most common signs of heroin use, and they can be found not just on the inside of the arm, but also behind the knees and between toes.

Behavioral signs and symptoms of heroin use may include a loss of focus or interest on anything other than the drug. When someone is addicted to heroin if often becomes their sole focus, and they will think about little else. Work or school responsibilities will become less important, people who use heroin will withdraw from their previous social connections, and they will often engage in illegal activities either to fuel their habit or because their judgment is clouded due to using the drug.

With heroin, along with the general signs that someone is using the drug, understanding the signs of a heroin overdose can also be important. When someone overdoses on heroin, they will lose consciousness and can’t be woken. They will often start to turn a blue color, and they will have very shallow breathing, or they will stop breathing altogether. If this occurs, it’s essential to call 911 immediately.

If you’re wondering whether someone is on heroin and you see several of the above signs of heroin use or addiction, it’s important to speak with a medical professional or contact a treatment facility. Heroin addiction an issue ends in death for many users, but recovery is possible.

How Do I Know If Someone Is On Heroin?
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