Understanding What Heroin Addicts Look Like

Heroin is a powerful opiate that’s long been a source of addiction, overdoses, and death. Unfortunately, in the U.S. we’re in the midst of a spike in the number of heroin users and deaths, and some of that is believed to because of the prescription opioid epidemic that’s also happening right now.

Family and loved ones may suspect someone close to them is using heroin or another opioid, but it’s tough to know what heroin addicts look like in some cases. There are many examples of heroin addicts looking completely normal, but there are also cases of people who’s appearance and demeanor may be very altered as a result of their drug use.

There are a few reasons it can sometimes to be difficult to know what heroin addicts look like. In the past, heroin was primarily injected, so marks signifying needle use was one of the primary red flags of heroin abuse, but now people are increasingly snorting or smoking heroin, so that is one way it’s tougher to see drug use until it’s gotten too far.

Also, many addicts of not just heroin but other drugs will go to great lengths to hide their use. They will be dishonest and take great measures to cover up what they’re doing, and their families and loved ones often don’t even know they have a problem until it’s too late.

However, if you learn the signs of what heroin addicts look like and what drug addiction, in general, may look like, you can start to spot the red flags earlier.

The following highlights some of the characteristics of what heroin addicts look like, although of course it can vary based on the person and their level of drug use.

Understanding What Heroin Addicts Look Like
When someone starts abusing heroin, they will often lose weight, and that can be one of the first telltale signs that something isn’t right. This weight loss often affects how their face looks, so people on heroin will start to look tired, gaunt, or older than they are. They may also have dark circles and a pale complexion. Heroin use impacts your blood pressure and heart rate, so people may also have a bit of a bluish tint to their skin.

What heroin addicts look like can often make them seem almost emaciated. The reason for the weight loss is the fact that heroin can make you nauseous leading to vomiting, and it can also create appetite loss. These symptoms can start happening even when heroin is used the first few times.

When you take heroin and other opioids, it can make you itch, and people may start itching and picking at their faces, which lead to sores and scabs.

Heroin also tends to make people’s coordination seem unbalanced, and their limbs feel heavy, so it can seem at times like they’re dragging themselves as they’re walking, or they’re slouching over strangely.

Of course, if someone is injecting heroin they may also have marks where the needles have been used, or they might wear long sleeves and pants even when the weather is hot.

What heroin addicts look like can also include abscesses or infections on their skin from injecting the drug, or sores on their nose or lips from smoking it. They may have burns on their fingers from smoking, and puffiness around the eyes.

Along with what heroin addicts look like physical, the following are also some signs of drug abuse related to heroin.

  • A persistent cough
  • Dry mouth
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Nosebleeds
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • A running nose
  • Sniffling
  • Constipation
  • Loss of menstrual cycle

Also relevant are behavioral changes that may occur and change not just what heroin addicts look like, but how they act.

These can include:

  • Seeming disoriented or uncoordinated
  • Being jittery or alert and then nodding off shortly after that
  • Excessive sleep
  • Declining performance in school or work
  • Slurred speech
  • Apathy
  • Hostility
  • Lacking motivation
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Declining hygiene
  • No concern for their personal appearance
  • Being alone
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Wearing sunglasses a lot

There are also things aside from what heroin addicts look like and how they act that can be considered, including paraphernalia. The following are some of the things that you may find when someone is using heroin:

  • Syringes
  • Orange caps from syringes
  • Burned spoons
  • Aluminum foil or gum wrappers
  • Shoelaces or missing shoelaces
  • Straws
  • Empty pen cases
  • Small plastic bags
  • Bottled water and bottle caps
  • Razor blades
  • Empty drug capsules
  • Cotton balls or q-tips

Again, it’s important to emphasize that there’s not always outward signs that indicate what heroin addicts look like, but if there are any red flags, it’s important to speak with an addiction professional.

Understanding What Heroin Addicts Look Like
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