5 Signs of Heroin Addiction

Finding Signs Of Heroin Addiction

The people we love can hide addiction from us. Nevertheless, signs of heroin addiction do exist. And you can find them. It takes some patience and knowledge. But with some effort and care, you can learn to identify signs of heroin addiction. It will also be helpful for you to know a few things about heroin itself, and how to find treatment. Whether you need treatment for yourself, or for someone else, know that it’s out there.

In this blog, Absolute Awakenings guides you through:

  • Brief information on the origins of heroin
  • What drugs like heroin do to the brain and body
  • How to find signs of heroin addiction
  • Treatment options for heroin addiction
  • How to get help

Brief Information On The Origins Of Heroin

A chemist named C. R. Alder Wright concocted heroin in 1874. Over 23 years later, Felix Hoffman resynthesized it and sold it to pharmaceutical company Bayer. Bayer began selling heroin over-the-counter in 1895.

Heroin is derived from opium. Opium itself comes from the poppy papaver somniferum. Cutting into the poppy reveals a sticky paste. This is opium. Modern medicines like morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and the like are also made from opium.

Opium, Opiate, Opioid…What’s The Difference?

Seems like a lot of words, doesn’t it. But they do have subtle differences. Opium itself is a naturally occurring substance. It does not have any inherent moral value. It is not a poison like hemlock or cyanide. And it does have legitimate surgical and medicinal applications. The word opiates refers to natural substances – like opium and morphine. Opioid refers to both synthetic and natural substances. Heroin is synthetic, i.e. made in a lab. It, therefore, is an opioid.

What Drugs Like Heroin Do To The Brain And Body

Opioids help ease pain. They take effect quickly – often with only a single dose. Ergo, they work. And they work well. So we ought not be dismayed that people develop a habit for them. After all, who wouldn’t want their pain to go away?

Opioids effect both the brain and the body. You see, our bodies make opioids naturally. Furthermore, we have unique receptors designed to receive opioids. They are specifically called opioid receptors. We find them in the brain, the spine, and even in the digestive tract. When we get hurt, our brain dispenses different opioids to these receptors. This process helps with pain.


Our brain sends messages called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitter dopamine has associations to positive emotions. Dopamine is supposed to be transmitted into the brain and reabsorbed. Opioids work to prevent dopamine from being reabsorbed by opioid receptors. Dopamine then remains “loose” longer than it ought to be. This explains the sustained sense of euphoria that people experience with opioids.

How To Find Signs Of Heroin Addiction

What’s the tell-tale sign of heroin addiction you always see in the movies? Puncture marks on the inside of the arm. While based in fact, signs of heroin addiction will usually manifest in behavior first. Watching how a person acts – changes in their moods and habits – provides the first signs.

Social Signs Of Heroin Addiction

Look for changes in a person’s social life. Perhaps they have difficulty forming (or maintaining) close personal relationships. Disorder follows addictive behavior. People that struggle with addiction have trouble grounding themselves. As such, they may leave jobs without much notice. If you see any of these social signs, ask more questions.

Emotional Signs

Opioids disrupt normal emotional patterns. They do this by interfering with the distribution of neurotransmitters. Consequently, mood swings become common among those struggling with opioid addiction. Quickly gravitating from positive emotions to negative (or vice versa) may represent a sign of opioid addiction.

Physical Signs

A person dependent on a substance may become desperate for that substance. They may make impulsive, or dangerous decisions to acquire the substance. Visiting multiple doctors to obtain a prescription (“doctor shopping”) can occur. Stealing money or prescriptions from loved ones is also common.

Treatment Options For Heroin Addiction

If you do notice some of the above signs, take heart. All is not lost. There is hope. Even if you have witnessed signs of heroin addiction, treatment options are available. They may include medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD). This helps people struggling from heroin addiction, which is a kind of opioid use disorder.

Absolute Awakenings offers partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and outpatient programs (OP). Those struggling with heroin addiction might also have a co-occurring mental illness. Or, they may have experienced unresolved trauma.

How To Get Help

Now, you know about different signs of heroin addiction. Hopefully, you won’t ever have to look for them. But if you do, now you know that help is out there. Have hope. Whether for yourself, or for someone you love. Hope saves lives.

If you or someone you know struggles with heroin addiction, reach out to Absolute Awakenings right now.