Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

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Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Many people addicted to heroin suffer on two fronts; first from the ruinous and life-threatening effects of the drug, and second, from the stigma and fear that surrounds heroin, which makes it difficult to reach out for support.

Heroin can rapidly take over our lives. It hijacks the reward circuitry in our brain, which makes us crave the drug, and the ensuing physical dependence means eventually our bodies cannot function without it.

Heroin addiction does not discriminate and affects all strata of society.

While many people think heroin addiction is always apparent, some people manage to hide their use well. If you have reason to suspect a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, you may be able to help them to access treatment. At Cirque Lodge, we treat each client as an individual and tailor our treatment programs to suit their needs. However, you first need to get familiar with the symptoms of addiction.

Symptoms of Heroin Addiction Overview

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a semisynthetic opiate or narcotic that acts as a central nervous system depressant.

The drug is derived from morphine, a chemical compound extracted from the opium poppy. It is infamous for its highly addictive nature – it takes very few doses for the body to begin to build up a tolerance.

Heroin users experience an initial “rush” of euphoric feelings, followed by hours of drowsiness and slowed bodily functions. It takes very little for heroin addiction to establish, and once dependent, the drug’s notorious withdrawal symptoms make unaided recovery very difficult.

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Heroin Statistics

The use of heroin and other opioids has risen sharply in the past twenty years across the United States.

The National Center for Health Statistics illustrates the scope of this with the following data:

  • In 2019 the number of deaths from drug-involved overdoses rose to 70,630
  • Of these, 49,860 fatal overdoses involved opioids of some kind – up from around 21,000 in 2010
  • Heroin was responsible for over a third (14,019) of these deaths in 2019

Common Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

If someone you love is experimenting with or addicted to heroin, you may have already stumbled across some signs of use.

Items Associated with Use

Heroin is often injected but can also be inhaled or smoked. If injected, you may have found new or used syringes, ties, rubber tubing, or burnt spoons or bottle caps in their possession.

They may wear long-sleeved shirts to cover track marks or bruised injection sites on arms, though people can inject more discreetly anywhere on the body. It is possible to overdose on heroin through any route of administration, but injecting is by far the most dangerous.

Smoking or snorting the powdered form involves less paraphernalia. Still, rolled paper, aluminum foil, or glass pipes can help you identify an addiction.

Changes in Behavior

Deterioration in users’ mental and emotional states is also likely to occur with long-term heroin use. Opioids are depressants that clouds and suppresses the way we think and feel. Frequent heroin use can weaken mental focus, leading to brain fog, depression, and memory loss. Because of this, dependency often goes hand in hand with social isolation from friends and loved ones and result in job loss. Other behavioral signs of addiction include:

  • Changes in social circle
  • Secrecy about whereabouts or who they spend time with
  • Unexplained financial trouble or loss of valuable items
  • Difficulty focusing on work and responsibilities
  • Declining interest in hobbies
  • Erratic moods, often slipping between drowsiness and hyperactivity or irritability
  • Difficulty keeping regular hours of wakefulness and sleep

However, no matter how severe the physical, mental, or social effects of heroin become, it is always possible to seek help.

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Physical Symptoms of Heroin Use

The signs of heroin use are usually very apparent minutes after administration.

The physical indications are:

  • Constricted (pinpoint) pupils
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Slowed cognition
  • Nodding off or abruptly falling into a sleepy or semi-conscious state
  • Long periods of drowsiness
  • Lowered appetite
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Shortness of breath

Long-term Effects of Use

Heroin addiction is disastrous and tends to get worse with time.

Coupled with this, the long-term physical effects get increasingly severe and include:

  • Heart and blood infections
  • Skin infections, including abscesses
  • Increased risk of HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C
  • Liver, kidney, or lung diseases
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Worsening withdrawal symptoms
  • Miscarriage
  • Overdose

If you notice symptoms such as these in someone you care about, it can be hard to know what to do next. If you find yourself in this position, our dedicated team at Cirque Lodge can provide you with advice and guidance.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin addiction can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms.

The effects of withdrawal symptoms can be as clear an indicator when attempting to identify heroin addiction as the short-term symptoms of use.

In its pure form, the half-life of heroin in the body lasts only a few minutes as it rapidly converts into its metabolites, and most of these compounds only have half-lives of a few hours.

Withdrawal tends to begin about twelve hours after the last use and is often accompanied by a host of physical and mental symptoms, including:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Profuse sweating, unaffected by temperature or activity
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Eyes tearing up
  • Aching muscles and bones
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps in limbs and uncontrolled “kicking”
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression or listlessness

Why Seek Treatment for Dependence?

Heroin is quickly metabolized and cleared from the body, but the detox period is still long and grueling.

Complex factors influence the intensity and duration of heroin withdrawal, which can last for days or weeks.

Severe or persistent symptoms often entice those trying to get free of addiction to relapse, and it is essential to embark on this journey with dedicated medical support. Following withdrawal, further expert treatment is critical for building the skills you need to maintain abstinence.

Withdrawal is not easy alone. A professional treatment plan in a therapeutic environment can make all the difference when attempting to cease using the drug. At Cirque Lodge, our world-class team will provide the care and support you need throughout the detox process and beyond. A dedicated therapist will create an individualized treatment program that is adapted as you progress through treatment. We provide a judgment-free space where you can learn to feel like yourself again in the serene natural environment of the Rocky Mountains.

Heroin Addiction Treatment at Cirque Lodge

At Cirque Lodge, we approach heroin addiction treatment from a holistic standpoint.

When you check-in, the first phase of your stay here will be a physical evaluation, followed by a medical detox period.

We support our clients through detox with medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. We monitor this stage closely to ensure our client’s safety, and there are medical professionals on call around the clock to address any needs that arise. Our staff is knowledgeable and compassionate, and we aim to make this step in the recovery process as comfortable as possible.

After this, we follow up with the second stage of our recovery program. Cirque Lodge’s rehabilitation program is based on the 12-step model of recovery. Clients receive a customized program of therapies to aid them in building an understanding of addiction, their relationship to it, and strategies for sustainable sobriety.

Our programs involve individual and group therapy, and we employ both cognitive and experiential therapies to communicate these skills. Our dual diagnosis program will address any underlying mental health issues that may be present, and these will be treated alongside your addiction.

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Cirque Lodge offers a combination of experiential, behavioral, and group therapies to provide a holistic and enriching treatment experience.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, please contact us today. We can help.

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