How Do I Know If Someone Is On Heroin?

Wondering if someone is on heroin is an all-too-common question today, especially when much of the United States faces a heroin epidemic. Every day there are tragic stories of people who overdose on heroin, and many of those people die. Public policymakers, law enforcement agencies, and families are searching for ways to deal with the heroin crisis that’s occurring in so many places in the United States.

Research shows that heroin use significantly increased over the past decade. Also, the number of people who used heroin for the first time in 2012 — which is when some of the most recent statistics are available — doubled from that same 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. 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, creating a mix 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.

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 pleasurable feelings. 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 that heroin is 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 that there is a link with prescription opioid use. Many people who become addicted to heroin were first prescribed opioid pain medication, such as OxyContin or Vicodin. The effects of these medications on the brain are similar to heroin. Misusing these drugs, even when they’re prescribed appropriately, can lead to heroin use. 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 uses 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 on heroin to focus on a conversation because they may have a hard time remembering things that happened just moments before, and it may seem as if they’re falling asleep.

When someone is on heroin, they also may have tiny, pinpoint pupils.

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 experience 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 since they are physically dependent on the drug.

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

Since it is so addictive, using heroin can be difficult to hide from other people.

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, it often becomes their sole focus and they will think about little else. Work or school responsibilities become less important to them. 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 shade of blue 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 aforementioned signs of heroin use or addiction, it’s important to speak with a medical professional or contact a treatment facility. Recovery is possible.

How Do I Know If Someone Is On Heroin?
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