Signs of Heroin/Opiate Abuse

Heroin is an opioid drug that is made from morphine: a natural substance derived from the seed pods of opium poppy plants. It may look like a white or brown powder, and it also comes in a black, sticky form called black tar heroin. This drug is injected, sniffed, snorted, or smoked.

Heroin enters the brain very rapidly in order to bond with opioid receptors, creating a rush of euphoria and pleasure. Other common effects include dry mouth, flushing of the skin, nausea, vomiting, feeling heavy or itchy, and clouded mental functioning.

This substance is extremely addictive and has recently flooded the American market. The number of users nearly doubled between 2007 and 2012. Because it is so widely available and so cheap compared to prescription opioids, it is important to be able to identify when your loved one has developed an addiction to heroin.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Signs that your loved one may be taking heroin include:

  • Going “on the nod” – a state where they vacillate between consciousness and semiconsciousness
  • Insomnia
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Constricted “pinpoint” pupils
  • Collapsed veins (for those who inject heroin)
  • Damaged nasal tissue or sniffling (for those who snort it)
  • Abscesses (pus-filled, swollen tissue)
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Lack of motivation
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Financial problems, borrowing or stealing money
  • Constipation and stomach cramping
  • Scruffy, unkempt appearance
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Poor hygiene
  • Pneumonia and lung complications
  • Secretive behavior
  • Sexual dysfunction for men
  • Irregular menstrual cycles for women
  • Contraction of HIV, hepatitis C (injection-related diseases)

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a progressive, chronic, relapsing disease of the brain. Successfully managing this disorder requires evidence-based treatment at an accredited addiction treatment center. Several factors such as past trauma, social circles, personal history, mental health, genetic predispositions, and the availability of certain drugs may impact a person’s healing. Because such a wide array of issues may influence someone to develop a heroin addiction, it is vital to create an individualized treatment plan that takes these things into account.

Treatment for heroin addiction should include…

  • Group Therapy
  • Individual Counseling (CBT, DBT, EMDR)
  • 12-Step Immersion
  • Individualized Treatment Plans
  • Addiction Education
  • Continued Care
  • Transitional Living
  • Treatment for Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders
  • A Positive, Supportive Environment

Heroin Addiction Treatment in Long Beach

At New Found Life, we have been saving lives, rebuilding families, and connecting with the community since 1993. We believe that heroin addiction is a treatable disease – not a moral failure. We provide evidence-based, stigma-free drug treatment services that help men and women to get their lives back. Call 800-635-9899 to speak with one of our addiction specialists about creating a treatment plan for yourself or your loved one. We look forward to hearing from you.


New Found Life works with several insurance carriers. Please call 1-800-635-9899 for quick and easy insurance verification.

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