Heroin is highly addictive and for those who become hooked on the drug, their lives begin to revolve around it. While there are several physical symptoms that are apparent and make it clear an addiction problem is developing, the non-physical signs of addiction may be harder to identify.
Non-physical signs of addiction tend to be harder to determine because they can be caused by other factors as well. Difficult life experiences, mental health conditions, and other factors can contribute to non-physical changes in behavior and mood in others. While the existence of these symptoms alone does not necessarily indicate an addiction is developing, identifying several of these alongside physical symptoms could highlight a larger issue.
Non-Physical Signs of Heroin Addiction
- Mood swings
Heroin abuse can cause a person to exhibit extreme changes in mood. It is not uncommon for those who abuse heroin to begin acting erratic or aggressive. You may observe them becoming easily agitated, irritable, or hostile towards others. They may also go through depressive mood swings in which they withdraw from friends, family, and social outings.
- Missing valuables or money
Addiction is an expensive habit and it ends up being prioritized over everything else. If someone is unable to afford heroin on their own, they may resort to stealing money or valuables in order to fund the habit. This may include stealing from friends and family or may even mean engaging in criminal activities.
- Legal trouble
Heroin is an illegal drug and being caught in possession of it or driving under the influence can lead to legal trouble. Because of the lengths some will go in order to acquire it, many will find themselves facing legal consequences related to committing crimes.
- Drug Paraphernalia
Heroin can be abused in numerous ways meaning that some physical signs of abuse you may expect may not be present. Heroin can be snorted, injected, or smoked. While many associate track marks as the tell-tale sign of heroin abuse, you may not find that on someone you suspect is using. If you notice burned spoons, glass pipes, syringes, or needles in their possession, it could indicate that they are using heroin.
- Altered sense of reality
Heroin can cause extreme mind-altering side effects that can last for varying amounts of time. Sometimes, hallucinations can be scary and cause a person to act out. They may fear things that are not really there, express they feel sensations like bugs crawling all over their skin, and you may observe scabs from picking at the skin due to these hallucinations. Not everyone who uses heroin will experience hallucinations or paranoia, but prolonged use has been linked to this side effect.
- Apathy and a lack of motivation
Heroin use can cause a person to struggle to feel happiness or pleasure from most things in life. You may notice a decline in academic performance or an inability to fulfill obligations at home or at work. This lack of motivation can lead to increased sleeping due to a lack of interest in things that may have once been important to them.
- Lying and secretiveness
If you notice someone is being more secretive in their daily lives, it could mean something is amiss. You may notice they are not be honest about where they are or what they are doing, and they may make up excuses to avoid social gatherings. You may also notice that they begin hanging out with new people as those who use heroin tend to interact more with others who do as well. Acting more secretive can be a method of shielding their loved ones from the reality of their situation.
What to Do If Your Loved One May Be Struggling With Addiction
If your loved one is struggling with heroin addiction and you are able to catch it, there is hope. There are several steps that can be taken to help someone who is struggling with heroin or opiate addiction. If someone is unwilling to seek help, an intervention may be necessary. If the person is willing to admit they have a problem opiate addiction treatment centers can help guide someone along this process. Usually starting with detox and residential treatment, followed by a stay in sober living and participation in outpatient treatment, the treatment process can help best prepare those in recovery from addiction for life after treatment.