Heroin is derived from morphine and is a highly addictive narcotic drug. It is commonly used by snorting or smoking. Some people inject the drug, but it is a less popular method due to the risks associated with sharing needles. When taken, heroin mimics the action of naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain called endorphins and produces euphoria. As heroin addiction can be dangerous, recognizing the signs and getting adequate treatment is essential to save yourself from serious health conditions. Although the recovery process is painful and debilitating, it is unavoidable to break free from addiction and secure a better future for you and your family.
Recognizing Signs of Heroin Addiction
If you suspect heroin abuse in your loved one, you should know about the important signs that you must look for to confirm it.
Sudden changes in behavior are a typical sign of drug abuse. The addict may replace old friends with new friends without any specific reason. You may also notice a dramatic drop in school grades. Job performance will also be affected as the addict will be more interested in getting a high from the drug than else. Physical changes such as runny nose and eyes, extreme tiredness, and constricted pupils should also be noted. The addict will not give importance to personal hygiene and may have an unkempt appearance. Also, look for unusual items such as syringes, capsules, and small plastic bags. Make sure valuable items are not missing. The addict may also develop deviant behavioral patterns such as stealing. They may also start to borrow money. You may also check for any needle marks on the arms as it may indicate heroin use.
When you realize that your loved one has a problem with addiction, you must try to talk to the person about it. You must let them know that you care about their wellbeing. Avoid confrontation or talking in an angry manner.
Physical Signs of Heroin Addiction
The physical signs of heroin abuse appear first, long before other serious complications. The common signs include:
- Needle marks
The fastest way to obtain a rush is by injecting the drug. Severe addicts use this method and regular use will leave needle marks on your arm. Sometimes, dark purple splotches may appear at the injection site due to bruising of veins and muscle tissue. Some may also inject on the sides of the feet or in between the toes to hide the marks.
- Difficulty with Respiration
Shallow breathing is one of the immediate effects of heroin addiction. This is caused by the severe irritation of the inner lining of the lungs. The addicts may also be at a high risk for respiratory infections such as pneumonia. It can also cause infection of liver and kidneys in course of time.
- Dilated Pupils and Glassy Eyes
These are classic signs of heroin abuse. In a normal person, the pupils will dilate in the dark and constrict in the light. But in heroin addicts, they will remain constricted even in the dark.
- Other Signs
The skin and face of the addict will turn pink immediately after heroin use. The heart rate will also increase as the brain is activated. As the rush begins to wane, they will start to shiver and may feel cold.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
Detox is the first step in the road to recovery from heroin abuse. It is common to experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, diarrhea, insomnia, and strong cravings during the process. The safest method is a medically assisted detox in a residential setting, where you will be given medications such as buprenorphine and methadone to lessen the withdrawal symptoms. After detox, you can choose from the numerous treatment options available including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, group therapy, and talk therapy.
Psychological Healing after Heroin Addiction
Although physical dependence on the drug will disappear within a week or two, it will take a long time to heal the mind after addiction. Depression and anxiety will continue even after the cessation of heroin use which often leads to relapse. You will be prescribed anti- anxiety medicines and anti-depressants to heal your mind after heroin abuse. Attending support programs like 12 step recovery meetings regularly can also help to find a solution for your psychological dependence to a great extent. Daily intake of multi-vitamin tablets is also beneficial to speed up the recovery process.