You know your child like the back of your hand and you sense something is off. Their outlook, drive and overall demeanor seem backwards. You’ve noticed, too, that some of their friendships are on rocky ground, their grades aren’t where they should be and they’re falling behind on certain responsibilities and obligations.
As any parent knows, the teenage and adolescent years are inherently challenging, but, to you, this feels like much more than that. You don’t want to let your thoughts ‘go there,’ but drug use has crossed your mind a lot lately. You have no proof, but your intuition has never steered you wrong.
You wonder, “Could my child be displaying addiction behavior?”
If you suspect your child is using heroin, don’t ignore this thought. With any type of drug use – especially heroin – it’s better to be safe than sorry. Even if you discover that it’s not heroin or any other kind of drug, at least you fully addressed this life-threatening possibility.
Read on to learn about the warning signs of heroin use and how you can confront your child if you do find that they are using or have become addicted to heroin.
Warning Signs of Heroin Use
What are heroin warning signs? As with anything in life, you cannot effectively help your child if you are unaware of what’s really going on.
If your child is using or addicted to heroin, the warning signs are more than likely hiding in plain sight. That’s why becoming extremely observant and assertive in your words and actions can mean the difference between heroin use and a full-blown addiction or worse – a heroin addiction and death from overdose.
Let’s take a look at some heroin paraphernalia and what the physical and emotional warning signs of heroin use are:
Heroin Warning Signs: Paraphernalia
Drug users and addicts who want to keep their habit a secret are smart about hiding the tools they use and cleaning up after they get their fix. As a parent who has a suspicion of heroin use, you must search your home for signs of use – this includes their room and belongings. Remember, this is their health, well-being and life on the line.
If you see or find any of the following paraphernalia used to prepare, consume or inject heroin, it more than likely means your child is using:
- Burned silver spoons
- Needles or syringes
- White powdery substance or residue
- Plastic bags with the white powdery substance
- Aluminum foil with burn marks
- Straws with burn marks
- Gum wrappers with burn marks
- Missing shoelaces or pieces of rubber hose (used to tie off a limb/injection site)
- Lighter or candles that are out of place
Heroin Warning Signs: Physical
When heroin is or was recently present in the body, it can cause a number of obvious red flags. If you notice any of the following signs – especially frequently – your child may be high on heroin or have recently consumed it:
- Small pupils
- Shortness of breath or panting
- Dry mouth
- Sudden mood or behavioral shifts
- Periods of hyper focus followed by sudden and/or severe drowsiness
- Droopy appearance (heavy extremities)
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Itchy skin
- Flushed skin
- Slowed breathing
Long-Term Physical Warning Signs
If your child has been using heroin for a while, a heroin addiction is present. An addiction occurs because your child’s body has built a powerful tolerance to the drug, requiring them to increase their dosage and frequency of use to experience the desired high. As a tolerance grows, heroin can wreak havoc on your child’s body and overall health, causing these physical symptoms:
- Cuts, scabs or bruises from skin picking
- Minor to excessive weight loss
- Runny nose with no other illness symptoms
- Absent menstrual cycle (for women)
- Needle track marks on arms
- Infections at the injection site
- Collapsed veins
- Contracting HIV or Hepatitis C
- Blood infections and infections affecting the heart
Heroin Warning Signs: Emotional/Behavioral
As an opiate, heroin single handedly rewires the brain’s chemistry and alters the reward and pleasure system of the brain. Because of this, you may notice that their mood, behaviors and actions are apathetic, irrational and extremely out of character.
Since heroin affects every individual differently, there are an abundance of emotional and behavioral warning signs, such as:
- Lying, cheating and stealing (especially money)
- Lack of or avoidance of eye contact
- Anger, hostile behavior and mood swings
- Increase in sleep
- Decreased motivation
- Lack of interest in hobbies
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Poor hygiene
- Wearing longer, baggier clothing to hide injection marks, even in warm weather
- Decreased self-esteem
- Increased incoherent speech
- Poor performance in school or work
- Broken commitments
- Loss of job
- Legal issues
How to Confront and Talk to Your Loved One About Heroin Addiction
If your loved one is using or addicted to heroin, the time to talk with and help your loved one quit using is now – before a worst-case scenario happens.
Because this is such a difficult and complex issue, we’ve outlined seven tips to help you have a productive and constructive conversation:
1. Educate yourself
2. Pick a sober time to talk
3. Communicate compassion and support
4. Avoid judgmental, enabling language
5. Remind your loved one of the severe consequences of heroin use
6. Highlight all the people who support them and their sobriety
7. Discuss detox and rehab options that are available
In our article How to Talk to a Loved One about Heroin Addiction, we discuss these seven tips in depth to help you thoroughly prepare and achieve the most advantageous outcome.
Holistic Heroin Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
With your help, your child can stop using, overcome their heroin addiction and build a future where their dreams and goals are realized. Ultimately, your child’s recovery must start with them recognizing they have a problem and wanting to get sober.
Without question, though, your child is never beyond recovery.
When your child is ready to get clean and forge a better life, they can find holistic, life-changing heroin addiction treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery. Here, your child can start to take back control of their life and recover from heroin addiction.
Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery’s all-encompassing, individualized heroin addiction treatment program.
Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us today.
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