Heroin Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Learn about the common signs and symptoms that occur with heroin addiction.

Overview of Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease. Heroin’s effects on the brain make it an ideal drug for addiction, as it creates a feeling of euphoria and warmth while reducing pain and anxiety. Chronic heroin use can lead to a range of medical complications, including hepatitis B and C, HIV, and collapsed veins.

A person with heroin addiction shows physical signs like constricted pupils and itching. Behavioral signs can include wearing long sleeves to hide needle marks and stealing from family and friends to pay for the drug.

Read on to learn more about the most common heroin addiction signs and symptoms.
Heroin Addiction Signs


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Understanding Heroin Abuse

Heroin is a powerful and addictive drug. It is typically made from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from poppy plants. Heroin affects the brain by binding to molecules on cells known as opioid receptors located in various areas of the brain and body. It produces intense feelings of euphoria and relief from pain, depression, and anxiety.

Heroin addiction is characterized by compulsive heroin use despite negative consequences, such as harm to one’s health, criminal activity, and relationship problems. Heroin also leads to short-term and long-term effects on the brain, such as deterioration of the brain’s white matter, affecting the ability to correctly make decisions, regulate behavior, and respond to stressful situations.1

Heroin Addiction Statistics

In 2019: 2
In 2020:2

Heroin Addiction Causes and Risk Factors

The various causes and risk factors associated with heroin addiction are noted below.

What Causes Heroin Addiction?

The exact causes of heroin addiction vary from person to person. Research has found that a combination of factors is at play when it comes to why a person becomes a heroin addict. Some of those factors include:

  • Environmental Factors: People who live in areas where the drug is easily available are at higher risk of developing an addiction. Moreover, people who are part of a family or social circle in which addiction is a normal part of life may see drug abuse as an appropriate way to solve problems.
  • Genetics: Addiction is believed to run in families. Therefore, people who have a close family member with a history of addiction are more prone to develop an addiction themselves.
  • Socioeconomic Factors: People dealing with unemployment, debt, and poverty are more likely to have an addiction than financially secure people.

Heroin Addiction Risk Factors

Some of the most common risk factors that contribute to developing a heroin addiction include:
  • Access to heroin
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Peer pressure
  • Genetic predisposition to addiction
  • Family history of drug addiction
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Undiagnosed mental illness

Heroin Addiction Signs and Symptoms

If you are worried that a loved one is addicted to heroin, here are some heroin addiction signs to look out for.

Physical Signs of Heroin Addiction

  • Dry mouth
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slow breathing
  • Loss of self-control
  • Itching
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Warm flushing of the skin

Behavioral Signs of Heroin Addiction

  • Stealing from family members and friends to pay for and sustain drug use
  • Constantly lying
  • Aggression
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Severe itching
  • Initiating fights with family and friends
  • Wearing long pants and long sleeves, even in warm weather (to hide needle marks)
  • Diminished coordination

Psychological Signs of Heroin Addiction

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness

Heroin Addiction Side Effects

Heroin addiction is linked to many physical, mental, and emotional short-term and long-term side effects. Additionally, it can lead to various medical complications if left untreated.

Short-Term Side Effects

The most common short-term heroin effects include:
  • Pleasurable sensation (a “rush”)
  • Warm flushing of the skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Heavy feeling in the extremities
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Slowed breathing
  • Clouded mental function
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased heart rate

Long-Term Side Effects

Chronic heroin use can lead to a range of damaging long-term heroin effects, such as:
  • Collapsed veins
  • Pulmonary infections
  • Liver disease
  • Chronic constipation
  • Depression
  • Kidney disease
  • Skin infections
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV
  • Heart infections
  • Infertility in women
  • Miscarriage
  • Low sex drive
  • Deterioration of white matter in the brain

Medical Complications

Chronic heroin use can lead to a range of medical complications. Some may develop mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and antisocial personality disorder, while others may develop physical disorders and conditions.

Certain medical complications are associated with the different routes of administration. For instance, chronic snorting of heroin can damage the mucosal tissues in their nose. In contrast, users who chronically inject heroin can suffer from scarred or collapsed veins, bacterial infections of the blood vessels and heart valves, and abscesses (boils).
Street heroin can contain additives that may clog blood vessels, resulting in infection or death. In addition, sharing needles can lead to the most severe medical complications of heroin addiction, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.

Heroin Addiction Treatment at Concise Recovery

Personalized Heroin Addiction Treatment Program

Concise Recovery offers personalized treatment programs for those with substance use disorder. Our highly trained medical staff specialize in providing the best care and guidance during each patient’s recovery journey.

About Our Medically-Supervised Detox Program

The Heroin Detox Program at Concise Recovery Center is all about safety and comfort. Our accredited detox program takes place in luxurious facilities staffed by industry leaders and experts in addiction treatment. We make detoxification as comfortable as possible by offering a variety of medications and accommodations.

What To Expect

Immediately after a patient’s arrival, our clinical team conducts an evaluation to determine the severity of heroin addiction and the level of drugs in the person’s system. We will then create a personalized detox program based on their individual needs to cleanse any toxins out of their system.

A team of nurses will provide twenty-four-seven supervision to manage any withdrawal symptoms safely. At our detox in Los Angeles, our clinical team will monitor each individual’s progress, offer comfort medications when necessary, and work to ease any severe symptoms they may encounter.

If you or a loved one struggles with heroin addiction, contact us at Concise Recovery today to learn more about our medically assisted detox and comprehensive heroin addiction treatment programs.