Heroin Addiction Symptoms

Learn how to recognize and identify heroin addiction symptoms as well as how Vista Taos can help in this informative article.

Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction has become rampant across the globe. According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 1.1 million people aged 12 or older were reported using heroin.1

Heroin Addiction Symptoms

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a drug produced from the herbaceous flowering poppy plant. Heroin can either be in the form of a brown or white powder or a sticky black tar.

What is Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction is a long-term illness that alters the brain and causes chronic uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors. When heroin is ingested, it makes its way to the brain rapidly and binds itself to certain receptors and neurotransmitters.

These neurotransmitters and receptors regulate the following:
  • Hormone release
  • Pain
  • Feelings of well-being
The euphoric feeling heroin causes makes an individual crave the drug more, which can quickly lead to tolerance and addiction.

How is Heroin Ingested?

The method an individual uses to ingest heroin determines the physical symptoms that may be experienced. People can ingest heroin in the following manners:
  • Injection
  • Snorting
  • Sniffing
  • Smoking

Heroin Addiction Symptoms

Heroin addiction symptoms include physical and behavioral changes. These will be detailed below.

Physical Heroin Addiction Symptoms

Continuous use of heroin changes the structure of the brain and body. It causes chemical imbalances in the neuron and hormone systems that cannot be easily reversed.
Common physical heroin addiction symptoms to look out for include the following:2
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Persistent flu-like symptoms
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Paleness and jaundice
  • Poor physical coordination
  • Bruises, track marks, and scars on the body

Behavioral Changes

An individual suffering from heroin addiction exhibits behavioral changes. When heroin consumption becomes a top priority, everything in a person’s life starts to revolve around it.
Some individuals suffering from heroin addiction might be able to hide the habit well enough that loved ones never find out. Others may find it hard to control the urge to ingest heroin, and it ends up negatively affecting relationships with friends and family.
As individuals consume and depend on heroin, there is a tendency to give up on important social activities and practice isolation.

Behavioral Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction also causes behavioral changes. Some of these can include the following:
  • Lying about whereabouts
  • Avoiding or ignoring daily responsibilities
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Stealing or borrowing money from loved ones
  • Wearing long sleeve clothing which hides needle or track marks
  • Appearing to sleep more than usual
  • Poor job or school performance 
By closely observing changes in a person’s behavior, addiction can be detected early on. When heroin addiction is identified at an early stage, it allows for timely intervention and professional treatment from addiction treatment centers like Vista Taos.

Psychological Symptoms

Heroin also affects psychological well-being, including emotional health and cognitive ability. Common psychological heroin addiction symptoms include the following:

  • Inability to concentrate or focus
  • Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Difficulty remembering information
  • Increased anxiety and paranoia
  • Extreme mood swings and aggressive behavior
  • Engaging in risky acts like driving under the influence

What Factors Influence Psychological Heroin Addiction Symptoms?

The psychological symptoms of heroin addiction vary from individual to individual. The types of symptoms an individual displays may depend on the following factors:
  • Dosage of consumption
  • The type of heroin used
  • Underlying co-occuring conditions
Psychological heroin addiction symptoms range from mild to severe. If a loved one is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, seek professional help.

Short-Term and Long-Term Heroin Addiction Symptoms

In this section, the symptoms of heroin addiction will be discussed in more detail.

The Different Types of Heroin Addiction Symptoms

There are different types of symptoms related to heroin addiction. These can include the following:
  • Short-term
  • Long-term or severe symptoms
  • Overdose symptoms
The short-term symptoms only last for a couple of minutes to hours, while long-term effects last longer.

Short-Term Heroin Addiction Symptoms

The short-term effects of consuming heroin include the following:3
  • Feeling of euphoria 
  • Feeling warm and flushed skin
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed Heart Rate
  • Severe itching
  • Heaviness of limbs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Clouded thinking
The pleasurable high feelings associated with the initial rush only last for a couple of minutes. After this, the individual would start to feel sedated for a couple of hours. During these hours, the body might react adversely, and the individual can experience several other symptoms.

Factors that Affect the Severity of Short-Term Symptoms

Short-term symptoms of heroin can be more or less severe depending on the following factors:
  • Heroin cut purity
  • Dosage of heroin ingested
  • How the drug was consumed

Long-Term Heroin Addiction Symptoms

When individuals consume heroin for a long period, the body builds up tolerance. An individual will then need to take larger doses to get the desired effects. As this goes on, the body will start to depend on heroin to function normally.
Long-term heroin addiction symptoms include the following:
  • Hypothermia
  • Damaged teeth and gum swelling
  • Poor appetite and malnutrition
  • Severe constipation
  • Light sensitivity
  • Slowed respiration 
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Infections of the heart lining and valves 
  • Co-occurring mental illnesses like antisocial personality disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Decrease in sexual functioning
Long-term symptoms are the side effects of prolonged consumption of heroin. They indicate the damage that heroin has caused to the brain and body.

Overdose Symptoms

Individuals who consume heroin for a long time are at high risk of overdosing. According to the CDC, in 2021, heroin was the cause of over 11% of all opioid overdose deaths.4
It can be difficult to tell the difference between long-term symptoms and overdose symptoms. Being able to identify and recognize the early signs of a heroin overdose can help in saving a life.
Major symptoms of heroin overdose include:
  • Pale and clammy skin
  • Blue-tinged lips and fingernails
  • Discolored tongue
  • Seizures
  • Pinprick pupils
  • Body going limp
  • Shallow or labored breathing
  • Uncontrolled vomiting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Making choking or gurgling noises
  • Loss of consciousness
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in an individual, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

The Progressive Stages of Heroin Addiction Symptoms

How heroin addiction symptoms progress for each individual is different. There are different stages that can help determine the severity of symptoms an individual may be experiencing.

Stage 1: Experimentation

The experimentation stage is the initial stage where individuals voluntarily use heroin out of curiosity or peer pressure. They may experiment with the drug without fully understanding the risks involved.
At this stage, an individual may not experience any negative legal or social consequences. Many people experiment with heroin without the intention or desire to continue using it. Heroin addiction symptoms start to manifest and pose a problem when individuals proceed to the next stage, which is regular use.

Stage 2: Regular Use

People start to consume heroin regularly at this stage. It is possible to engage in regular heroin use without developing a dependency at first.
At this stage, individuals are able to stop consuming heroin without needing professional help. The risk of becoming addicted to heroin is very high at this stage.

What Causes Regular Heroin Use?

Regular heroin use may be caused by a desire to escape emotional or physical pain or to cope with stress.

Stage 3: Risky Use

Individuals progress from regular use to risky use in a very short time. Stage 3 is defined by consuming heroin despite awareness of the severe consequences. 

At this stage, the following symptoms will develop when heroin is not consumed:

  • Cravings
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
At this stage, the body is already developing tolerance and dependence to the drug.

Stage 4: Drug Addiction and Dependency

At this stage, individuals start to neglect responsibilities like work and school. Friends and family may feel abandoned. Heroin consumption can take over, and the drug can become a necessary escape route.
Once addiction and dependency are developed it is difficult to stop heroin consumption without professional help. Health will begin to rapidly decline.
If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, professional help is available. Our expert medical staff at Vista Taos are here to help you begin your journey to recovering your life from addiction.

The Importance of Recognizing Heroin Addiction Symptoms

By understanding heroin addiction symptoms, you can help provide yourself or a loved one with proper medical care. Family and community can serve as an important part of an individual’s support system.

Some of the benefits of being able to recognize heroin addiction signs include early intervention and reduced drug addiction stigma.

Early Intervention

Family members and communities being aware of the effects and symptoms of heroin addiction allows for early intervention. Intervention at an early stage increases the chances of a successful recovery.

Reduced Stigma

When a community is properly aware of heroin addiction symptoms, the stigma attached to heroin addiction reduces. People are more likely to address heroin addiction with empathy when it is seen as a complex medical illness rather than a moral failing.
By understanding the symptoms, communities can allocate resources and create an environment where individuals feel more comfortable and encouraged to seek help.

Encouraging Individuals to Seek Help

It is important to recognize addiction symptoms. This knowledge can empower individuals to take the necessary steps toward recovery. These steps can include reaching out to professionals at a licensed treatment center.

How Vista Taos Can Help with Heroin Addiction Treatment

heroin addiction symptoms

Vista Taos is a New Mexico renewal center that offers comprehensive addiction treatment in a private and secure environment. We follow a holistic treatment process that addresses all aspects of addiction. This ensures complete recovery.

Medical Detox

Detoxification is the first step in recovery. Detoxification involves cleansing the body of ingested heroin. Detoxification can be dangerous as individuals may experience difficult withdrawal symptoms. Our live-in medical detox program ensures safe and successful heroin detox.

Our medical detoxification program includes the following benefits:
  • Medication management
  • Inpatient and round-the-clock care
  • Mental health therapy

Our Team

Our team of healthcare professionals regularly monitor patient health. We may offer medication assisted treatment to alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms like pain or paranoia. We work with each client to create a personalized treatment plan.

Primary Treatment

Vista Taos offers a residential care program designed to assist individuals struggling with heroin addiction. Residential treatment provides individualized care in a therapeutic environment.

We recognize the importance of addressing the emotional and spiritual elements of addiction recovery. Our holistic treatment approach focuses on the following:
  • Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention
  • 12-Step curriculum meetings
  • Trauma informed care
  • Individual & group therapy
  • Grief & loss therapy
  • Relapse prevention education
These treatment methods have proven to be effective in overcoming addiction. Our relapse prevention education equips individuals with the knowledge and skills to maintain long-term sobriety.

Extended Care

Vista Taos understands the importance of a continuum of care for individuals suffering from heroin addiction. Our heroin addiction treatment plan includes a comprehensive extended care program. This way, we can provide ongoing support after primary treatment is complete.
Our extended care program includes the following:
  • Individual therapy
  • 12-step meetings
  • Safe living environment
  • Work and volunteer opportunities
  • Educational groups
  • Therapeutic activities and outings
Our programs also help with the transition from primary care to family and work life. The length of residential treatment ranges from 1 to 12 months.

Reach Out to Vista Taos

If your or a loved one is showing signs of heroin addiction, reach out to Vista Taos. We understand that addiction is a complex issue that affects people in different ways. We develop comprehensive care plans tailored to each individual.

Our treatment plan addresses not only the physical aspects of addiction but also contributing psychological and emotional factors. We provide a private and safe environment to focus on recovery. Contact our team today to start your recovery journey.

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Ready to Renew Your Life and Well-Being?

Reach out to Vista Taos Renewal Center today and let us guide you toward sustainable recovery. We will help you heal from the addictions and substance use challenges that hinder you from leading your most fulfilled life through personalized, whole-person treatment.