The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that nearly one million Americans had used heroin in the past year. So, if you or someone you love struggles with a heroin addiction, know that you are not alone.

Finding the path to recovery can be difficult for those in the throes of heroin addiction. For one thing, it can be difficult to identify the signs that use has become abuse. Others may need convincing that their habit will have detrimental side effects on their health.

And then there’s the major task of finding heroin addiction treatment that suits you and can help you to recover in the gentlest way possible. Even if you know you’re ready to change, this step can be a big speed bump if you don’t know how to find help.

We’re here to help with every step. Here’s everything you need to know about heroin addiction, the risk, and the road to recovery.

The Signs of Heroin Abuse

Heroin is an incredibly addictive opioid. Those who use will begin to show symptoms that this drug has taken over their life.

Physical Symptoms

Heroin will quickly create physical symptoms that can help you tell if someone is using it. Heroin abuse signs include:

  • Contracted pupils
  • Disorientation
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty with decision-making
  • Skin flushes
  • Slower breathing
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

The latter symptom is a big sign of heroin addiction. Many people who use the drug will have to take laxatives or other over-the-counter aids to help them use the bathroom. So, if you notice someone you love has begun to use such medications, it could be an even more emphatic sign of an addiction to this opioid.

Changes in Lifestyle

People with heroin addictions tend to change their lifestyles, too.

For starters, you might look for heroin paraphernalia to confirm that someone has an addiction. What you’ll find will depend on how the heroin is ingested.

For example, if someone injects heroin, they will first need to heat it to turn it into a liquid. So, you might find burnt spoons and lighters. Needles and elastic bands may be on the scene, too.

Beyond that, heroin users might start to wear only long-sleeved shirts to hide their scars from injecting. And many will start to withdraw from their family and friends as a way to hide their addiction. If you notice relationships have started to fall apart, then you or the person you love may be addicted to heroin.

Finally, heroin users will become obsessed with where they will get their next fix. So, if heroin becomes the focus of your life, then it has probably morphed into an addiction that you will need help to overcome.

The Health Risks of Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction has some serious implications for a person’s health in both the short- and long term.

Heroin withdrawal can begin within hours of last use. Insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and muscle and bone pain are among the immediate health problems that arise.

But sustained heroin use can have detrimental effects on a person’s health. For one thing, there’s the risk of developing heroin use disorder. This chronic disease makes a person focused solely on obtaining and using heroin — nothing else in life will matter to them. As such, overcoming a heroin addiction once this condition sets in can be tough.

Studies have also shown that long-term heroin abuse can rewrite the brain’s functions. It can render decision-making to be difficult. It can also make it hard for someone to handle stressful situations or regulate their own behaviors.

Worst of all, people who use heroin quickly increase their tolerance. This means that they will need more and more of the drug to get the high they crave. And, the more and more they take, the higher risk of overdose — and death — they face.

How to Get Heroin Addiction Treatment and Recover

With all of these risks in front of you, you may see that it’s time to enter heroin addiction treatment and get yourself on the road to recovery.

Heroin addiction treatment will be an extremely difficult process, but it’s one that will be improved if undertaken in a professional setting. For example, withdrawal can be incredibly painful and, sometimes, physically dangerous. If you go through it in a medically monitored detox, though, you will know that you will survive the worst.

After withdrawal, you will need to address the situation that pushed you into addiction. Counseling will help you uncover these issues and find new ways to deal with them. You can relate to others in treatment, too, and you’ll realize that you aren’t alone in your addiction or recovery.

Finally, many addiction treatment centers, including ours, provide the option of long-term recovery care. The initial withdrawal and treatment take three weeks. But you may need months of monitoring and support to truly get you through to the other side.

As the days and weeks go by, though, you will feel stronger on your own and in the face of addiction. The more time you spend recovering, the more chance you’ll have at returning to a life without heroin or any other substance to which you have become addicted.

Start With Us

Perhaps this information has convinced you that it’s time to sign up for heroin addiction treatment. If so, we’re here to help you.

At SOBA New Jersey, our team of experts guides adults of all ages through recovery. Our substance abuse recovery programs include specialized courses for heroin, cocaine, and alcohol.

Contact us today and begin your journey to a substance-free lifestyle.