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How To Tell If Someone Is On Heroin

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

March 28, 2019

With the rising opioid epidemic, how to tell if someone is on heroin is becoming a more common question. There are many signs that can be noticeable when someone is on heroin, including track marks and behavioral changes.

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that falls under the opiate category of drugs. This substance is not approved for medical use and is illegal in the United States. Unfortunately, this drug is still widely abused and is the cause of numerous overdose-related deaths each year.

Heroin use has significantly increased in the past years, with an estimated 15,000 people dying from this drug in 2017. Heroin addiction will often require an intensive, multi-level treatment program to effectively overcome.

7 Signs That Someone Is On Heroin

Detecting heroin use isn’t always easy, especially if someone is fairly new to the drug or hiding how much or how often the drug is being used. Some people will only use heroin by themselves or with other heroin users, making it hard to determine when someone is on this drug.

If you believe someone is using or addicted to heroin, helping them get professional treatment is the best thing you can do. Knowing the signs of heroin use and addiction is the first step to helping someone get treatment. Here are a few signs that someone may be using heroin:

Nodding Off

One of these most noticeable signs that someone is on heroin is nodding off. Someone may be in the middle of the conversation and then seemingly fall sleep for a period of time. This is often not intentional and can’t be controlled. People may also have trouble carrying on a conversation and seem confused.

Physical Signs

Some common physical signs that someone is on heroin are flushed skin and pinpoint pupils. People may also experience an extremely dry mouth when using heroin.

Drug Paraphernalia

People who use heroin often have their supplies, or paraphernalia, near them. These supplies may include needles and bowls where they dissolve the heroin with water.

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Track Marks

Injecting heroin can often leave track marks where the injection is performed. Common places for track marks include the arm, wrist, between the toes, and on the back of the hands.

Behavioral Changes

People who use heroin are often consumed by the drug. They may withdraw from friends or family, begin to have work or school problems, and put all of their attention on obtaining and using this substance.

Health Issues

Using heroin can lead to a number of noticeable health problems. These may include infections, abscesses, and blood borne illnesses. Long-term heroin abuse can lead to more severe health problems such as liver, kidney, or lung disease.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Someone who is addicted or dependent on heroin will likely display withdrawal symptoms when not on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include excess sweating, vomiting, agitation, and muscle pain.

Rehabilitation For Heroin Addiction

Many people who are addicted to heroin will need a formal treatment program to successfully overcome their addiction. Heroin is an incredibly addictive substance, and most people can’t quit heroin alone.

An inpatient rehab program is often the most successful course of action for overcoming heroin addiction. Inpatient programs provide intensive and often personalized treatment plans that address each person’s specific needs and condition.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Today’s Heroin Epidemic

National Institute On Drug Abuse - Heroin

National Institute On Drug Abuse - Overdose Death Rates

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