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Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction to understand your position with the drug. We can offer confidential assistance here at Addiction Advocates Enquire Now
Further Information
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Updated on 17/09/2021
Medically reviewed by
Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist)

Produced by the opium poppy, heroin is an opiate, synthetic drug within the most hazardous group of Class A illegal substances. It’s smoked, injected, and snorted to achieve a euphoric high, which lasts around an hour post-consumption.

Due to the highs that heroin can produce when consumption is consistent, the risk of addiction is extreme, highlighting its addictive and damaging formation. Through such constant abuse, tolerances can develop with adapting brain structure and functionality, known to induce physical and psychological cravings.

Sadly, it can be challenging to stop consumption due to the strength and positive reinforcements that heroin initially offers. Exposure to heroin will therefore develop into an addiction, which will continue as a vicious cycle up until acceptance and completion of drug rehab is experienced.

Through this cycle, signs and symptoms of heroin addiction will present themselves, all in different degrees and forms, slowly indicating the addiction development process. Displayed through physical, psychological, behavioural, and social signs and symptoms, heroin addiction can cause grave changes and disruptions, supporting its dangerous classification.

If you’re abusing heroin or believe that someone around you is experiencing such changes, here are the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction, along with ways to intervene, withdraw and recover. At Addiction Advocates, we’re here to offer support through your recognition, diagnosis, and admission process into drug rehab.

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Recognising heroin addiction

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Due to the substantial impacts of heroin, an addiction can display a variety of signs and symptoms. To the eye, most are noticeable through behavioural and social changes, as drug abuse impacts actions, decisions, attitudes, and motivations. However, signs and symptoms of heroin addiction are also felt by users on physical and psychological levels, through deterred and concerning health issues.

Recognising a heroin addiction, whether you’re personally struggling or believe that someone else is, as heroin is a lethal substance, turning such signs into lifelong issues.

While under the influence, down to the strength of heroin, the positive reinforcements that it offers can mask such signs and symptoms, turning intervention into an unwelcomed or unnecessarily perceived step. Yet, a diagnosis and treatment should be considered if a combination of the below signs are found through heroin exposure, withdrawal symptoms, and habit-like consumption rates.

Signs and symptoms of heroin addiction

Materialising through physical, psychological, behavioural, and social forms, signs and symptoms will naturally vary in display and impact. Depending on the quantity of heroin that’s been consumed, the severity and length of addiction, whether heroin has been mixed with other substances, personal health, and the changes that heroin has incurred, an unpredictable combination should be expected.

Physical signs and symptoms of heroin addiction

Heroin can severely impact the body, from functionality to general wellbeing and immunity. Depending on how heroin is consumed, impacts can vary. Consumption to an addiction degree can induce signs and symptoms including:Rehab Questions

  • Lethargy
  • Unplanned weight loss
  • Sleep disorders
  • Symptoms of pneumonia
  • Diagnosis of Hepatitis C
  • Flu symptoms
  • Breathing problems
  • Respiratory issues
  • Increased infections
  • Risks of overdose
  • Malnourishment
  • Consistent cravings
  • Seizures
  • Infertility issues

Psychological signs and symptoms

Heroin significantly impacts the mind due to how it suppresses the central nervous system and reward system. Drug abuse and mental health conditions are highly correlated, which is found through heroin addiction due to the disruptions that it causes to brain structure and functionality. Common psychological signs and symptoms of heroin addiction include:

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  • Unjustifiable mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Impaired focus and memory
  • Irritability
  • Symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem, awareness and worth
  • Impaired judgment
  • Constantly focusing on consumption
  • Hallucinations
  • Lack of motivation

Behavioural signs and symptoms of heroin addiction

The consequences of addiction do tend to display through behavioural changes. The above signs on physical and psychological terms can impact how a user acts, feels, communicates, and leads everyday life. Behavioural signs and symptoms include:

  • Poor performance across responsibilities, whether linked to work or general life
  • Secrecy behaviours
  • Withdrawing from common interests
  • Fixating on heroin exposure, whether that’s associates who also consume the drug or actual consumption
  • Adapting routines, appearance, and lifestyle to hide heroin abuse
  • Ongoing use even though the consequences of heroin addiction
  • Legal and financial problems
  • Homelessness, risks of crime and anti-social behaviour
  • Focusing time on consumption and exposure
  • Hyperactive behaviour

Social signs and symptoms

The impacts of heroin addiction can also materialise through social changes. Signs and symptoms of this include:

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  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Opting to be alone
  • Social isolation due to symptoms of heroin abuse
  • Damaged relationships
  • A negative relationship with oneself
  • Lying about plans and routines
  • Identifiable changes to personality and social behaviours

Diagnosing and treating heroin addiction

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It’s evident to see how impactful a heroin addiction can be, very difficult to manage through the signs and symptoms of such a condition. If you are experiencing any degree of the above, considering a professional diagnosis and treatment will be encouraged. Without intervention, without completing the rehab process, and without prevention, a damaging addiction can amount, resulting in a range of fatalities.

Through drug rehabilitation, detoxification, appropriate addiction treatment services, dual diagnosis treatment, relapse prevention and aftercare can be experienced. All will work through personal encounters with heroin, to suppress signs and symptoms, promote recovery and reduce the desirability of ongoing consumption.

At Addiction Advocates, we can help you through the admissions process to source suitable heroin addiction treatment, following a medical diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms of heroin addiction will vary from person to person. Yet will indefinitely reflect a negative relationship with the drug. Be aware of them to take appropriate action.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens during heroin withdrawal?
Withdrawing from heroin will be the process of detoxification. Detoxing will remove all traces of heroin, which can reasonably transpire through physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Seen as a shock to the system, heroin withdrawal will be the first step towards addiction recovery, best completed through a medical programme.
How do I convince a loved one to access heroin treatment?
Heroin treatment should be personally accepted. However, you can look to convince someone you care about, by understanding addiction, offering support, and highlighting the benefits of drug rehab. You can access help with each step through our services at Addiction Advocates.
Does heroin affect mental health?
Heroin abuse highly correlates with poor mental health due to the impacts that it causes on brain structure. Depression and anxiety are common results of heroin addiction, which will require dual diagnosis treatment to recover. We can help you find such support through drug rehab.

Seth is an author, addiction recovery expert and fully accredited member of the national counselling society. He has experience working with a wide range of addictions and mental illnesses using a number of evidence-based therapies and programmes such as the SMART models of addiction recovery.

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