Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

The signs and symptoms of heroin addiction can be deceptively subtle.  Long before family members friends or even the substance abuser becomes aware that there is a problem, the development of an addiction may already be in progress. Unfortunately, once heroin use is habituated, tolerance levels will continue to build and addiction becomes imminent.

Widespread abuse of prescription medication has created a pathway into an addiction for millions of Americans.  This change from the traditional route that typically led most people into heroin addiction spearheaded a significant shift in the stereotypical image of what a heroin addict looks like. This divergence is one reason many people today wait too long to get into a treatment program.  Other reasons that can undermine crucial warning signs of a fledgling or full-blown heroin addiction until a drug overdose, serious health issue or death occurs, includes:

  • The common misconception that addiction can be overcome through sheer will-power.
  • Fear and denial by both the person struggling with heroin use and their loved ones.
  • Having insufficient knowledge or information about the inherent dangers associated with using heroin.

With drug overdose deaths directly linked to heroin cocktails almost at epidemic proportions today, it is critical to know the following signs and symptoms of heroin addiction.

Ten Behavioral Signs of Heroin Addiction

  1. A deviation from doctor prescribed medication to heroin as a substitute for pain after the primary reason for pain medication has been resolved.
  2. Frequent borrowing or stealing money from loved ones.
  3. A greater need for secrecy, isolation, and lying or other deceptive behavior typically associated with excessive spending and unexplained absences.
  4. Degenerating self-esteem and body image that usually result in the neglect of personal hygiene and physical appearance.
  5. Wearing clothing that covers arms and legs despite weather conditions as a way to cover needle marks.
  6. Apathy towards former interests in hobbies and other favorite activities.
  7. Spending less time with family in favor of newly developed “covert” type friendships.
  8. Growing frequency of visible impairments to cognition, gait, speech, and need for sleep.
  9. A show of hostility towards loved ones when questioned about changes being observed in their behavior and appearance.
  10. A willingness to put oneself at risk with the law through illegal purchase and consumption of heroin.

Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

The manifestation of symptoms of heroin abuse is a strong indicator of addiction.  As a result, these symptoms are usually multifaceted and require specialized medical and therapeutic interventions to halt chronic drug use and sustained sobriety.  They may include but are not limited to…

  1. Withdrawal symptoms that can occur during periods of abstinence or through a deliberate effort to stop the abuse. To name a few, these symptoms can range from mild to severe and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle or bone aches and pains, insomnia, cold sweats, flu-like symptoms and intense cravings for heroin.
  2. A psychological impairment that drives obsessive seeking and compulsive use of heroin despite harmful or negative consequences.
  3. Mood swings.
  4. Weight loss.
  5. A consistent runny nose.
  6. Infections or abscesses on arms and legs or at injection sites.
  7. Loss of menstrual cycle in women.
  8. Abrasions, cuts, bruises and scabbing due to frequent picking of the skin.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) describes heroin as an opioid drug that is derived from morphine. Heroin can appear in the form of a white or brown powder. The sticky black version of heroin is called “black tar” heroin.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin abuse or addiction, we encourage you to call Ebb Tide Treatment Centers today at (561) 799-3680.  Our rehabilitation services include both partial hospitalization and outpatient care.  Because we recognize that without appropriate treatment a fatal drug overdose could occur with the next use, at Ebb Tide Treatment Centers we strive to make our treatment program the only one you will ever need. 


Comments are closed.