Heroin Addiction in Adolescents and Young Adults

In recent years, prescription pain killers, such as oxycontin, fentanol, vicodin, etc. were the drugs of choice for those addicts who favored opiates because they were easier to get than heroin and less expensive. Because of their popularity through efforts to clamp down by the FDA, they have become less accessible and more expensive.  As a result of our military presence in Afghanistan, where opium poppies grow in abundance, there has been an alarming influx of cheap heroin into the country. In response, the Mexican drug cartels are also flooding the market with cheap, “black tar” heroin. As a result, heroin addiction has become, once again, an epidemic in the U.S. and people are dying from overdoses in alarming numbers.

If you believe someone you know or love is using heroin, what follows are the top 20 questions to assess heroin addiction symptoms:

  1. Has their appearance changed; do they not appear to care how they look?
  2. Are they eating properly?
  3. Have they lost or gained weight?
  4. Are there needle marks on their arms or legs?
  5. Have they markedly slowed down?
  6. Do they have the shakes?
  7. Are their hands cold and sweaty?
  8. Have you smelled something on their breath, or their clothing?
  9. Do their eyes appear red?
  10. Are their pupils dilated?
  11. Is their face puffy?
  12. Is their skin tone flushed or pale?
  13. Do they have a blank stare?
  14. Has their physical coordination changed? Are they staggering?
  15. Have they missed a lot of school, or work?
  16. Have their sleep habits changed? Are they always tired?
  17. Have they become lazy?
  18. Are they hyper?
  19. Do they lapse into rapid speech patterns? Do they slur their words?
  20. Have you seen heroin paraphernalia such as needles, syringes, used cotton, etc.?

This list is by no means complete, and even if they have these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person is addicted. Don’t assume the worst, but don’t deny the obvious!

Along with the above signs and symptoms, some other factors connected to heroin use to consider are overall health and appearance. Often, however many of the telltale signs can be seen in their attitude and behavior.

When they go to extremes to make sure you don’t know who they are with or what they are doing, this is definitely a red flag. When they become secretive and guarded and their only interaction with the parents is to ask for money, and when asked why they need money they refuse to answer, or become indignant. Worse yet, they may steal items from home to buy drugs. The eyes are often an indicator. Has the life gone out of their eyes, or is there a major change?  With all addicts, there is an old saying; “You can tell an addict is lying because their lips are moving.” If the adult has not generally played fast and loose with the truth, it is a pretty good indication that if lying accompanies a number of the previously stated symptoms, drug abuse is probably a factor.

Getting Help for Heroin Addiction

Riviera Recovery has specialized experienced helping those with addiction to heroin receive the right help to maintain sobriety for the long-term. If you or someone you know if suffering from addiction, call our Admissions team to learn about the treatment options available, 866-478-8799

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