No one wants to think about their loved one abusing drugs. But if a friend or family member is using, you can’t afford to avoid dealing with the problem.
Substance abuse is a huge drain, both emotional and economic–in fact, substance abuse takes more than $740 billion from the economy each year in crime, lost wages, and healthcare, $193 billion of which is related to illicit drugs like heroin.
If you’re worried a loved one might be abusing heroin, read this article for signs of heroin use you should watch for.
How is Heroin Abused?
Heroin is an opioid drug made from the resin of poppy plants, like morphine. It’s called by a variety of names, including horse, big H, hell dust, and smack.
Since it is made from the same material as morphine, the body processes heroin similarly to morphine. Once ingested, the drug binds to opioid receptors in parts of the brain affecting mood and pleasure, including the brainstem, which is responsible for autonomic functions like breathing and blood pressure.
One of the most significant impacts of the drug is a rush of euphoria right after taking the drug, followed by a few hours in which time seems to slow down, an effect some users describe as dreamlike.
Users take heroin via a range of methods, including injection into veins or muscles, snorting, or smoking.
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
There are many signs of drug addiction, though there are a few that are specific signs of heroin addiction.
After the initial high and euphoria, the drug will make users feel itchy. It can also cause nausea and vomiting, especially as the drug begins to wear off. It also blocks pain messages from reaching your brain and has a noticeable effect on your breathing and blood pressure.
It will also result in clouded thinking during the high and hours of drowsiness.
Short-Term Side Effects
Of course, as people continue to use and abuse heroin, they develop a physical and psychological dependence on it.
Among other health concerns, prolonged heroin abuse can lead to:
- Collapsed veins (especially if the user injects heroin)
- Infections of the heart lining and valves leading to heart problems
- Skin infections
- Lung diseases
- Risk of HIV/AIDS
- Risk of hepatitis B and hepatitis C
It can also exacerbate any preexisting mental health issues that the user may have, which is especially concerning if the user is abusing heroin as a makeshift treatment for other disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety.
If Someone You Love is Addicted
Is someone you love addicted to drugs or alcohol?
The most important thing is to get help immediately. Addiction is a disease, and you or your loved one don’t need to fight alone.
The easiest place to start is to have an honest conversation. During this time, it’s important to be patient but firm and not to get angry.
Recovery is a long process, and it’s not always smooth or fun. But being honest with each other about the problem is the first step towards a better life for everyone.
More Lifestyle Articles and Advice
If you see the signs of heroin use in a loved one, it’s scary to think about what comes next. But this is when your loved one needs you the most.
Check out our blog for more tips on this and other issues, like this post on the long-term effects of Adderall.