Signs of a Heroin Addiction

An addiction to heroin is characterised by changes in the brain, as well as, uncontrollable behaviours that are based around the desire to get more of the drug. These behaviours are present regardless of the known consequences. 

Signs of a Heroin Addiction

An addiction to heroin is characterised by changes in the brain, as well as, uncontrollable behaviours that are based around the desire to get more of the drug. These behaviours are present regardless of the known consequences. In frequent or heavy users, the signs of a heroin addiction may be noticeable; however, for people who tend to be more discreet, they may be difficult to recognise. If you believe someone you know has a heroin dependency, getting treatment at a heroin rehab is the best option towards a healthy recovery.

Understanding Heroin

Heroin is synthesised from the Asian opium poppy plant. When used, it converts into morphine. On the streets, heroin can be referred to as brown, tar, and black tar. In Australia, heroin is often called ‘H’, skag, smack, or horse. In its purest form it is a fine white powder that can be snorted, smoked, or injected.

Upon initial use of heroin, the user will feel an intense rush of pleasure, wellbeing, and euphoria. The feelings can be so strong that the user develops a strong desire to seek the same effects. If they enact these desires, they can build a tolerance and addiction.

When heroin enters the brain, it is converted into morphine and binds to the opioid receptors located in the brain and body. These receptors are responsible, or involved with, pain perception and reward. For this reason, when heroin is used, the feelings of euphoria increase while the sensation of pain decreases. Overtime, with chronic use of heroin, the structure of the brain will change. Once a tolerance and addiction has developed, the user will go through a withdrawal whenever they quit.

The Potential Risk Factors of a Heroin Addiction

There is no single cause for addiction, and research into this matter is ongoing. At this time, researchers believe there are several factors that can lead to an addiction. These include:

  • Genetics – Although genetics may not cause a person to use heroin, it is possible for their genes to cause them to become addicted.
  • Chemistry of the Brain – Repeated use of heroin, or other drugs, changes the way in which the brain senses pleasure or happiness. It can also lead to physical changes, both temporary and permanent, to nerve cells and neuro connectors.
  • Environmental – It is certainly possible for a person to be affected by peer pressure, group thinking, or societal/family beliefs. For example, a person who grows up around people who use drugs or encourage the use of drugs may be more prone to using.

Psychological – An individual struggling with a traumatic event, such as the death of a loved one, or childhood sexual abuse, may be more prone to heroin or drug use. Likewise, people with undiagnosed mental illnesses may self-medicate with drugs to mask or ignore the symptoms.

In general, a person with a heroin addiction will likely fit into more than one of the aforementioned. The right heroin rehab may seek to identify the reasons for using; thereby, develop healthy ways to cope or heal them.

The Signs of a Heroin Addiction

No two people are exactly alike; this, when it comes to the signs of a heroin addiction, what might be obvious in one person may not be obvious in another. Furthermore, the seriousness of the symptoms will largely depend on how dependent the individual is, how often they use, and other personal factors. The following are the most common signs of heroin addiction:

  • Frequent agitation and irritability
  • Hostility towards other people, especially those who may be trying to help
  • Increase in sleeping
  • Track marks on the arms, or elsewhere on the body
  • Body sores from injecting
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Lack of motivation
  • Slurred speech
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent infections
  • Flushed skin
  • Excessive itching
  • Scratch marks from the itching
  • Constricted pupils
  • Euphoria followed by depression
  • Disorientation
  • Nodding in and out of consciousness
  • Paranoia
  • Wearing long sleeved clothing and/or pants even in warm weather

As time passes, and heroin has become the priority, a person’s entire life may shift to revolve around the drug. Because of this, you will likely notice obvious changes in a person’s behaviour and overall life. Behavioural signs of a heroin addiction may include:

  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Mood swings
  • Missing money
  • Track marks
  • Legal troubles
  • Job loss
  • Loss of a relationship
  • New friends
  • Withdrawal from social events
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Secretiveness

Without treatment, such as an inpatient heroin rehab, the chances of a person getting better on their own are slim. Heroin is an extremely difficult drug to discontinue, and often requires a medical detoxification followed by psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. If the addiction is not broken, long term health consequences may result, and include:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Infection
  • Heart infection
  • Transmittable diseases
  • Blood borne pathogens
  • Decrease in mental functioning
  • Blood clots and stroke
  • Respiratory problems
  • Overdose
  • Death

Recovering from an Addiction to Heroin

Recognising the signs of a heroin addiction might motivate you into staging an intervention for the individual who may be in need of help.If an intervention is not possible, there may be other ways that could lead the person into going to a rehab for heroin addiction. Regardless of how a person gets help, it is important they do so sooner rather than later.

To learn more about our heroin rehab in Thailand, call Siam Rehab today.