6 Signs of Heroin Abuse and Addiction - ARISE Treatment Center

Heroin is a major player in the opioid epidemic that has claimed the lives of thousands of Americans. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, 0.3% (or about 902,000 people) reported using heroin in the past 12 months.”[1]

Heroin is an illicit opioid drug derived from morphine, which is a natural substance that is created from the seed pods of the opium poppy plant. Heroin is an extremely addictive substance, causing individuals to become dependent on the drug after only a couple of uses.

Due to the habit-forming nature of heroin and the raging opioid epidemic, it’s important to be aware of the signs of heroin abuse and addiction so you can help your friends or loved ones in need.

What are the Top 6 Signs of Heroin Addiction?

When someone is addicted to heroin, they will attempt to hide the signs of their drug abuse. Sometimes, this can make heroin addiction difficult to spot, especially if you have no prior knowledge of drug addiction and its effects. However, the signs will become difficult for them to conceal as their addiction progresses.

6 Signs of Heroin Addiction

Six signs of heroin abuse and addiction are:

1. Social Isolation

People who abuse heroin will attempt to hide it from their friends and loved ones. Oftentimes, this causes them to isolate themselves from the others around them. If your loved one is spending more time locked inside their bedroom or out of the home, they might be abusing heroin.

Additionally, the effects of heroin cause it to be difficult for individuals to interact with others. Heroin is a depressant that may cause users to fall asleep while sitting up.

The effects of heroin typically encourage those abusing it to isolate themselves from others while they are high. And, if someone is abusing heroin, they are most likely high on the substance frequently as it is extremely addictive.

2. Drug Paraphernalia

Another common sign of heroin addiction is paraphernalia. Your loved one may have drug paraphernalia laying around in their bedroom or their home. Some of the common drug paraphernalia associated with heroin abuse include:

  • Burnt spoons
  • Needles
  • Belts or tourniquets to tie one’s arm off with
  • Burnt tin foil
  • Straws
  • Baggies with powdery residue

3. Sudden Weight Loss

Many drugs affect people’s weight, with meth being the most commonly discussed weight loss-provoking drug. However, heroin is also known to cause sudden weight loss. This substance acts as an appetite suppressant, causing people to lose extreme amounts of weight in a short period.

If your loved one is suddenly losing weight, they could be abusing heroin.

4. Physical Symptoms of Heroin Use

Depending on how your loved one is abusing heroin, there will be physical symptoms of the abuse.

If they are intravenously injecting heroin, you might notice small needle marks on their arms, legs, hands, feet, and even their neck. Sometimes, these needle marks become infected or inflamed.

If your loved one is smoking heroin, they may have sores or burn marks on their lips and face. This occurs because they are attempting to heat up the heroin and they accidentally put their lips on the pipe or straw.

If your loved one is snorting heroin, they may experience frequent nosebleeds because of the irritation the drug causes to the nasal passages.

As an opioid, heroin slows down activity in the central nervous system and constricts blood vessels. This causes people who are under the influence of the drug to have small, constricted, or pinpoint pupils. People who have pinpoint pupils, even in the dark, may be high on heroin or another opioid.

5. Changes in Mood

Heroin causes an array of adverse effects on a person’s emotions. If your loved one begins to display frequent mood swings, agitation, and apathy, they may be abusing heroin. Sometimes, these mood swings can cause them to become violent, especially if they have not been able to use heroin yet.

6. Symptoms of Withdrawal

Lastly, people who are addicted to heroin will experience symptoms of withdrawal if they are unable to use the drug. Even cutting down on the amount of heroin one uses can cause withdrawal symptoms to occur. This happens because their body becomes accustomed to the presence of the substance, causing it to go haywire when that substance is removed.

Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include the following:

  • Cravings for heroin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe muscle aches and pains
  • Cramping
  • Feeling like the body is heavy
  • Extreme pain in muscles and bones
  • Episodes of crying
  • Insomnia
  • Cold sweats
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea

If your loved one displays the signs of heroin withdrawal when they are not high, they are addicted to heroin. Heroin withdrawal can be extremely painful, causing many individuals to revert back to using drugs without the help of a heroin detox center.

Finding Help for Heroin Addiction Today

Heroin addiction is an extremely devastating disease. If you or a loved one abuses heroin, you are at an increased risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose. It is important for you or your loved one to seek help sooner rather than later.

Here at Arise Treatment Center, our comprehensive heroin drug rehab center in Vista, California can help you uncover the root cause of your addiction, develop healthy coping skills for recovery, and learn about what it takes to stay sober. Start your heroin addiction treatment today by speaking with one of our dedicated admissions coordinators.


  1. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states


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