Last Updated on by Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley
One thing that just about every person with a drug addiction has in common is that they become experts at hiding it. They know that their loved ones won’t approve of their use, so they quickly go to great lengths in order to deceive those around them.
Therefore, if you suspect that someone you know has become addicted to heroin, don’t expect them to make it easy to detect. Instead, you need to learn what signs of heroin addiction look like.
3 Signs of Heroin Addiction
As of 2014, there are roughly one-million heroin users in the United States. That was a 20-year high and there are no signs of it reversing. So it’s entirely possible that someone you know has become addicted.
Keep in mind, too, that heroin has become a white-collar drug. Many people assume their loved ones couldn’t possibly be using the infamous opioid because they wouldn’t know where to get it. However, the drug is becoming more and more accessible to just about anyone.
If you’re worried your loved one may be using, here are three telltale signs of heroin addiction.
1. A Noticeable Change in Behavior
If someone you know all of a sudden begins deviating from their normal schedules, routines, or overall behavior, something has obviously changed. Of course, this doesn’t mean they’ve begun using heroin.
Nonetheless, the reason this makes our list of signs of heroin addiction is because using the drug takes time. Your loved one needs to find time to purchase it. Then they may have to prepare it.
The high from heroin sets in immediately and the most intense period can last between one and two hours. During that time, they will be almost comatose, which means they won’t want to be in public or around people they’re trying to hide their use from. The entire experience can last between three and five hours.
So if your loved one is using heroin regularly, you’ll definitely notice they’re unable to keep their normal schedule.
2. Track Marks
One of the most well-known signs of heroin addiction is what is commonly referred to as “track marks.” This refers to the dark discoloration that accompanies scars caused by repeatedly injecting a drug like heroin into the same vein. Over time, these repeated injections damage the vein and cause noticeable scarring. A user will generally have track marks on their arm.
That said, just because you don’t see track marks doesn’t mean someone isn’t using. They could be injecting in their hand, foot, leg, or even groin to hide these marks. Snorting or smoking heroin is possible, too.
3. Lack of Lucidity
As we covered earlier, the high from heroin can last for hours. If you notice your loved one ever going in and out of consciousness or otherwise “not all there” and there isn’t an obvious reason (e.g. they were drinking or up all night), heroin may be the culprit, especially if they have a dry mouth, flushed skin, and/or constricted pupils.
Get Help Giving Help
Noticing these signs of heroin addiction is only half the battle. If you are now convinced that someone you love is using heroin, seek professional assistance with helping them. Given how incredibly powerful heroin is, most users won’t quit without a fight.
Dr. Ronaye Calvert-Conley is the CEO and Founder of Revive Detox, a Joint Commission Accredited and Legit Script Certified Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in Los Angeles in 2007 and has extensive experience working in the addiction and recovery field and the LGBT community. To learn more about Dr. Calvert-Conley click here.