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Am I Physically Addicted? Heroin Addiction Signs to Know
Are you wondering if you’re physically addicted to heroin? Heroin is a dangerous and very addictive drug. Heroin effects provide a strong example of how addiction changes and ultimately ruins a person’s life. Some signs will verify if you think you may be physically and mentally dependent on heroin. Please note that these same heroin addiction symptoms can apply to other opioid substances.
Do not wait to get help for heroin addiction. Tell us what’s going on and we will see how we can help you. Call us today at (888) 906-0952
- Heroin: Dangerous and Highly Addictive
- Signs of Physical Heroin Addiction
- When You’ve Reached the Point of Addiction
- Early Heroin Addiction Factors and The Consequences to Come
- Physical Heroin Addiction Consequences
- More Potential Consequences and Finding Help
Heroin: Dangerous and Highly Addictive
Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug that dominates many U.S. drug markets.
An individual may smoke or snort heroin, making it more appealing to people since they do not inject it. People typically dissolve and dilute black tar heroin before injecting it into the body.
You’re Not the Only One Struggling
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that in 2016, about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in past year. That number has been on the rise since 2007. Heroin use seems to be driven by young adults between 18 and 25. Sadly, the data indicates that more drug users are starting to use heroin than ever before. About 170,000 people began to use heroin in 2016, nearly double the number of people who started using it in 2006.
The negative side effects of heroin use are on the increase as well. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV), “criteria for dependence or heroin use disorder increased dramatically from 214,000 in 2002 to 626,000 in 2016.” Thankfully, heroin use seems to be declining among youth ages 12 to 17.
In 2021, Heroin addiction was changing as fentanyl has gained popularity on the drug markets. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, gives a similar experience as heroin and is far more potent. Some individuals addicted to heroin attempt to avoid fentanyl, but it is very difficult.
Fentanyl and heroin addiction signs are extremely similar, although heroin detox is known to be “easier” than fentanyl withdrawal.
Signs of Physical Heroin Addiction
You might be wondering how long you have to do heroin daily to become physically dependent on the drug. The answer is that it varies from person to person. Each individual is biologically different and will react to heroin use differently.
However, there are some signs that your body has become dependent. These signs manifest themselves after a certain amount of abstinence from heroin.
Withdrawal Signs that Point to Physical Heroin Addiction
Withdrawal symptoms from heroin use can occur just a few hours after taking the drug. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Pain in the muscles or bones
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- The feeling of wanting to jump out of your skin
While most withdrawal symptoms peak within 24-48 hours of using the drug, some people’s symptoms can persist for weeks. But usually, heroin detox can be completed within one week.
Heroin Use Disorder as a Disease
Heroin use disorder is a disease that goes beyond physical dependence and into the area of severe addiction. Heroin use disorder entails an uncontrollable urge to drug-seek, regardless of the consequences. As another drugabuse.gov post states, “once a person has heroin use disorder, seeking and using the drug becomes their primary purpose in life.”
Stopping Now Can Save Your Life
People with a long history of heroin addiction can develop liver, kidney, or heart diseases. Heroin use also damages the immune system, making addicts more prone to infections because their immune system can’t fight off the bacteria.
Additives in heroin can clog blood vessels, such as arteries and veins, leading to heart attacks and permanent organ damage. Some of those additives are deadly and can kill a person within minutes. More so, heroin use can cause miscarriages.
Since heroin is bought and sold illegally, it’s very difficult to tell what additionally may be in the drug without conducting tests. Much of the heroin people consume (particularly black tar or impure heroin) probably contains different substances that damage the body.
Reaching the Point of Heroin Addiction
Many heroin addicts experience mental disorders such as depression and antisocial personality disorder. Men can experience sexual dysfunction, and women can experience irregular menstrual cycles. Those who snort heroin can damage the tissues in their noses and harm the tissue that separates the nasal passages.
Chronic injection of heroin (or any other drug) can lead to scarred or collapsed veins, bacterial blood vessels, abscesses (boils), and other soft-tissue infections. Injecting and sharing needles can also lead to HIV or hepatitis. The additives in street heroin can cause infection or even the death of small patches of cells in vital organs. Immune reactions to these or other contaminants can cause arthritis or other rheumatologic problems.
How can you tell if someone you love is a heroin addict? While the heroin addiction symptoms can be hard to identify at first, they will become more noticeable as it takes over a person’s life. A person addicted to heroin worries about getting their next dose more than they care about anything else: heroin injections will leave needle marks, so many heroin addicts will wear long-sleeved clothing to hide their scars.
Addicts can also begin to withdraw from friends and family members. Relationships at work and home will begin to suffer. Addicts may also have trouble maintaining their health and personal hygiene. Again, this is because getting the next dose of heroin has become more important than anything else in their lives.
Early Heroin Addiction Factors and The Consequences to Come
Addiction goes beyond substance abuse. A person can develop an addiction to behaviors or actions, like gambling.
Some early Factors of addiction include:
- Family history of addiction
- Being drawn to a particular substance or activity
- Seeking out places where the substance or activity is present.
If you are spending most of your time in places where heroin is available, you must consider that you will continue to take advantage of that availability.
Not everyone living on the streets becomes addicted to heroin, and, sometimes, youth will experiment with opioids like heroin and other substances without actually developing an addiction.
However, maybe you have moved beyond the “experimentation” phase into a lifestyle where you are no longer in control. Do not feel bad or ashamed, as this can happen quickly. Addiction does not discriminate.
Is Heroin Use Changing You?
Sometimes changes in behavior can help identify when someone is addicted to heroin. Telltale signs of addiction include a lack of interest in things that used to be important, neglecting relationships, missing important obligations like work, taking more risks (especially to get drugs), and ignoring the negative consequences of their actions.
Are you having to lie and hide things? If you lie to the people you love about where you are going and what you are doing, it will continue to create a wedge in your relationship. Of course, you want to hide any indication of what’s going on. Over time, these lies change you as a person, and they hurt your relationship.
Are you surrounding yourself with other people who encourage your heroin addiction? If you’d rather spend time with those, who encourage you, it’s likely your addiction will progress. You will spend less time with your family and loved ones.
When your family confronts you about this behavior, you probably feel yourself getting defensive. You think of a million excuses and justifications. You might even feel as if you’re right.
As time goes on, you will notice that it is harder and harder to justify what is going on. Each human being is born with a conscience, and when we actively go against what our conscience reveals, we can go further into addiction.
Physical Heroin Addiction Consequences
We now know some of the specific signs of heroin addiction, but we should also consider the physical consequences of heroin addiction. A person’s health will almost always decline in some way when they become addicted to heroin.
Signs to watch for include:
- Bloodshot or glazed eyes
- Constant sickness of some kind
- Unexplained injuries
- An abrupt change in weight
- Bad skin, hair, teeth, and nails.
You may also display an increase in their tolerance to drugs, memory loss, or changes in speech (like slurred words or rambling). There are signs of mental changes to be aware of. The mental changes include sudden mood swings, more aggressive behavior, irritability, depression, apathy, and suicidal thoughts.
The goal is to consider all the medical or mental health reasons you might have such symptoms. Examine yourself objectively. Once you eliminate all other possibilities, you must consider addiction as a possible cause for the symptoms.
Many of these examples of heroin addiction symptoms are “short-term.” That is to say that they are almost immediately detectable. Other symptoms of addiction are more long-term. They extend over the lifetime of a person with an addiction.
Heroin Addiction Consequences and Finding Help
It may not have happened yet, but if you continue to use heroin, you may have to deal with arrests or time spent in jail, losing jobs or not keeping a job, and losing parental rights over a child.
When you overcome a heroin addiction, you also can make better choices about what will help you avoid such situations.
We’ve looked at heroin addiction symptoms and the physical and emotional things that a heroin addict must endure. If you are taking heroin and recognize any of these symptoms, it’s clear that you need help. There is no shame in reaching out for help.
Heroin addiction doesn’t have to control your life anymore. Give us a call and we can discuss your treatment options with you confidentially. The helpline is (888) 906-0952.
Sources of Information
Heroin Related Educational Content and Guides
Medically Reviewed By:
Dr. Patricia Sullivan MD MPH on 2/8/2022
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