Heroin is a dangerous drug that leaves thousands in its wake every year. It\u2019s highly addictive and can quickly become the central focus in your life. People lose families, jobs, relationships and self-respect to heroin. It\u2019s a drug addiction that must be taken seriously. Learn about heroin abuse signs and symptoms, and how to get help for you or a loved one. Signs of Heroin Use The possibility that your loved one is a heroin user may feel frightening. You\u2019ve likely heard about the deadly heroin epidemic and the bleak statistics that accompany it. If you\u2019re worried that a loved one is using heroin, look for these heroin abuse signs and symptoms: Immediate Effects of Heroin People who use heroin report a feeling of bliss. This is followed by feelings of heaviness and calm. They may drift in and out of sleep for several hours as well. Outward signs and symptoms of heroin use that may happen shortly after taking the drug include: Dozing \toff (commonly known as \u201cnodding off\u201d) \t Small \tpupils and glassy looking eyes \t Slow \tbreathing \t Drinking \tlots of liquid due to dry mouth \t Itching \t Clumsiness \t Extremely \tloose and relaxed \t Runny \tnose \t Confusing \tand slurred speech \t Nausea \tand vomiting Other Effects of Heroin Use Heroin dependence can quickly develop. As heroin addiction progresses, so does desperate behavior. Feeding their drug addiction is the main focus in a heroin user\u2019s life. Everything else is unimportant. General signs of heroin abuse include: Weight \tloss \t Track \tmarks on arms, legs, and between fingers and toes \t Sleeping \tat odd times \t Rarely \tshowering, brushing teeth, shaving and wearing clean clothes \t Scabs \t Bruises \t Low \tenergy \t Mood \tswings \t Wheezing \t Financial \tproblems \t Stomach \tissues from withdrawal \t Neglecting \twork, school or personal obligations Items for Using Heroin Warning signs of heroin abuse also include finding items people use to store and take the drug. These may include: Needles \t Glass \tpipes \t Burnt \ttin foil and spoons \t Small \tbaggies or balloons \t Sticky, \tdark residue from black tar heroin \t Items \tthat can be tied around the arm or leg to prep veins \t \t Cigarette \tfilters Signs of Heroin Addiction Heroin is extremely addictive. Some addiction experts put it at the top of the list of addictive substances. It\u2019s hard to just \u201ctry\u201d heroin. Heroin users say the high of heroin is like none other. They turn their lives upside down to experience that high again and again. Casual heroin use can quickly progress to heroin abuse and addiction. If you\u2019re worried that you or a loved one has a heroin problem, review these heroin addiction signs: Having \theroin withdrawal symptoms without the drug (see heroin withdrawal \tbelow) \t Spending \tlots of time and energy on getting and using heroin \t Unsuccessful \tattempts to quit or cut back on heroin use \t Agitation \tand irritability \t \t Selling \tpossessions for drug money \t Stealing \tfor drug money \t Depression \t Anxiety \t Lack \tof motivation \t \t Neglecting \twork, school, family and friends \t Financial \tand legal problems because of heroin use Signs of Heroin Overdose Heroin overdose is a real threat. Almost 68% of the 70,200 overdose deaths in 2017 involved opioids including heroin. If you or someone you love is showing signs of heroin overdose call 911. There are medications that can help reverse a heroin overdose before it\u2019s too late. Signs of a heroin overdose include: Gurgling, \tchoking or snoring sounds \t Unconsciousness \t \t \t Limp \tbody \t No \tpulse or slow pulse \t Vomiting \t Slow \tor shallow breathing \t Not \tbreathing \t Bluish \tor gray colored skin \t Blue \tor purplish lips and nails Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms A common symptom of heroin addiction is heroin withdrawal. With regular heroin abuse, your brain starts to rely on the drug to function normally. The brain becomes less responsive to heroin over time. It needs higher doses to get the same effect and prevent withdrawal. Heroin dependence impacts parts of the brain involved in functions like breathing, blood pressure and wakefulness. When heroin is present it slows down these processes. Without heroin, the brain goes into high alert, increasing activity. This is what causes some heroin withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, stomach issues and cramps. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include: Vomiting \t Diarrhea \t Stomach \tcramps \t Muscle \tpain \t Flu-like \tachiness \t Restlessness \t Insomnia \t Anxiety \t Cravings \t Sweating \t Chills \t Fast \theartbeat \t High \tblood pressure Heroin withdrawal symptoms can be painful. In rare cases, complications from heroin withdrawal can be fatal. Excessive vomiting and diarrhea can contribute to dehydration and high levels of sodium in the blood. These symptoms can lead to heart failure. It\u2019s important that heroin detox takes place in a licensed treatment center. Medical professionals can ease heroin withdrawal symptoms with medications. They can make sure you\u2019re safe and as comfortable as possible. Long-Term Effects of Heroin Heroin abuse can have long-term effects on your life. It can change the structure of your brain. Heroin abuse may create imbalances in brain chemicals and shrink white matter. These changes can lead to problems: Making \tdecisions \t Regulating \tbehavior \t Responding \tto stress Other long-term effects of heroin use include: Liver \tand\/or kidney disease \t Respiratory \tdepression \t Chronic \tpneumonia \t Collapsed \tveins from injecting the drug \t HIV \tor Hepatitis \t Seizures \t Blood \tclots and stroke \t Heart \tattack It can also lead to heroin use disorder. This is a chronic disease that impairs your judgement. You\u2019ll do anything to get the drug. Your life revolves around heroin. Another symptom of heroin use disorder is chronic relapses. Heroin addiction can also contribute to anxiety, depression and other mental health symptoms. Heroin abuse may cause imbalances of brain chemicals that regulate mood. It can take some time to rebalance those chemicals. Heroin Addiction Treatment Effective heroin abuse treatment usually combines behavioral therapy and medications. Currently the FDA approves three medications for heroin addiction treatment. These medications work on the brain in similar ways as opioids and heroin, without getting you high. In doing so, they can help ease heroin withdrawal and heroin cravings. This helps you focus on addressing underlying issues and building relapse prevention skills. These medications may also help you stay sober longer. Heroin medications are most effective when you\u2019re also involved in intensive behavioral therapy. Inpatient treatment is often needed to get the level of care you need to recover from heroin abuse. Heroin residential treatment programs may offer approaches like: Cognitive \tbehavioral therapy (CBT) - \tCBT helps you identify unhealthy thoughts. You\u2019ll learn about \thealthy self-talk. You\u2019ll challenge negative beliefs about \tyourself. You\u2019ll see how your behaviors, thoughts and emotions \twork together. \t Medication \tmanagement - Many times drug \tabuse and mental health disorders occur together. This is called \tco-occurring \tdisorders or a \tdual diagnosis. You\u2019ll meet with a psychiatrist to see if \tmedications can help manage your mental health symptoms if needed. \tMedication, such as methadone, may be given to help suppress \twithdrawal symptoms. These drugs given have addictive properties \tbecause of their ability to suppress pain. They must be taken as \tdirected by your physician. \t Contingency \tmanagement - Sometimes \tpositive reinforcement like more free time, phone use or vouchers \tare given when clients follow their treatment plan. \t Individual \ttherapy - Counseling with a \ttherapist helps you address some of the reasons behind drug \taddiction. These can include emotional pain, relationship problems \tand low self-esteem. \t Group \ttherapy - Sharing with people \twho struggle with similar issues can be healing. Group therapy \tprovides connection and community in recovery. \t Family \tprograms - Family therapy \thelps you work on relationships with your loved ones. They\u2019ll \tlearn how to support you. Together, you\u2019ll learn how to \tcommunicate better. Residential programs may also offer alternative approaches. These help you heal in different ways than talk therapy. Alternative approaches may include: Fitness \t Yoga \t Mindfulness \t Art \ttherapy \t Trauma \twork \t Adventure \ttherapies Recovery from heroin addiction has unique challenges, but a better life is possible. People just like you are living amazing, healthy lives in recovery after feeling the despair of heroin addiction. Call [phone] to take the first step toward recovery today.