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Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Abuse


As a powerful drug, heroin can potentially cause substantial havoc on almost every aspect of an individual’s life – physical, mental, and psychological well-being. The slang terms for heroin include horse, smack, and tar. As an opioid, heroin is synthesized from morphine (a natural element of a plant known as opium poppy).

Heroin abuse is accomplished through smoking, snorting or injecting it into the body. When an individual takes heroin through any of these methods, he will experience a euphoric rush. Ingesting heroin will also cause a decrease in heart rates and respiration.

Effects of Heroin Abuse

Heroin abuse can result in addiction, as well as heroin use disorder. Other diverse physical and cognitive impairments may arise as a result of misusing heroin, death may also occur as a result of overdose. In addition, the beginning of painful of withdrawal symptoms may completely paralyze an individual’s ability to resist heroin abuse, except the person seeks professional help.

Statistic on Heroin Abuse

According to a report culled from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System, up to 6 out of 10 individuals died in the course of treatment as a result of long-term heroin abuse. Also, The Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that about 0.1 percent of ages 16 to 59 populations have abused heroin over the past 12 months in 2015.

Heroin Abuse – Causes and Risk Factor

There are myriad factors that can influence heroin abuse, they may include the following;

  • Environmental Factor: Associating with people who misuse heroin may influence an individual negatively. Also, being in an environment that promotes access to heroin can influence abuse.
  • Genetic Factor: Also, genetic factor may influence heroin abuse or other forms of drug abuse as shown in a research involving adopted children and twins.

Risk Factors

Some of the identified risk factors to heroin abuse may include the following;

  • Gender – compared to women, men are more prone to heroin abuse.
  • History of substance abuse – an individual with history of substance abuse has increased risk of heroin misuse.
  • Age – a certain age bracket shows increased risk of heroin and other drugs abuse. A research has shown that majority of individuals who misuse heroin start during their late teens.
  • History of mental illness – someone with a history of mental illness may also be prone to heroin abuse.
  • Also, individuals who are novelty-seeking may abuse heroin
  • Heroin abuse may also be influenced by impulsiveness.

Signs and Symptoms

Some of the many indicators that an individual may be abusing heroin include the following;

Physical Signs and Symptoms

  • Mouth dryness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Papillary constriction
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Depressed respiration
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Skin issues such as sores and scab
  • Sleep disorder
  • The legs and arms may become heavy

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms

  • Possession of paraphernalia such as needles and syringes
  • Interest in substantial activities would decline


  • Deception in terms of revealing whereabouts or activities the individual is indulging in
  • The quantity of heroin being used steadily increases to larger and larger amounts. This is because the individual is seeking to achieve a level or desired effect with the substance
  • Inability to quit using heroin even when it is well-known that the substance is dangerous and life-threatening
  • Spending substantial time in the process of trying to acquire, use as well as recover from heroin abuse

Therefore, if your loved one is showing some or all these signs of heroin abuse, don’t delay to seek professional help on the person’s behalf.