Parents, Know the Signs of Heroin Use

Recently, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s heroin-induced death made the headlines. People pronounced his death tragic and surprising, although the actor had struggled for years with heroin use.

Hoffman’s death has undoubtedly raised awareness about heroin use, but people still may not realize that heroin is not a drug limited to celebrities or urban gangs. Nationwide and even here in Kansas City, heroin use among suburban teens and adults is on the rise.

If you are a parent, it’s key that you understand the facts about heroin and learn to recognize the signs of heroin use among your teens.

The Spread of Heroin & Signs of Heroin Use

Is Heroin Use on the Rise?

In Missouri alone, there were 187 accidental heroin deaths in 2013, marking the sixth straight year of heroin deaths in the double digits. According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, this reflects the national trend due to an increased push by heroin traffickers based in Mexico. Heroin seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border have soared 232% since 2008.

Why is Heroin Use Increasing?Kansas City | Parents, Know the Signs of Heroin Use

Experts have suggested that there are several factors behind the increase of heroin use. These include users starting the drug at a younger age, the proliferation of higher-purity heroin on the street, and the move from prescription opiates such as OxyContin to heroin, which is cheaper and more available. Some heroin use seems to spring from legitimate opiate prescription that spirals into addiction. Since law enforcement has cracked down on fraudulent prescriptions, opiate addicts may turn to heroin use.

Once heroin use is initiated and progresses to serious addiction, it can be difficult to quit. Users no longer need it for a high, but to function. Even if they seek treatment for heroin use, frequent relapse is expected.

Signs of Heroin Use

Despite the realities of relapse into heroin use, there are treatment options for addiction that will allow heroin users to function, including the use of methadone. In order for your loved ones to get the treatment you need, you first must recognize that they have a problem. Here are some of the signs of heroin use:

  • Physical signs:
    • Dry mouth
    • Small pupils
    • Disoriented movements/behaviors
    • Hyperactivity followed by sudden fatigue
    • A droopy appearance
    • Shortness of breath
  • Behavioral signs:
    • Sudden mood swings or behavioral shifts
    • Deceptive behaviors, including lying and stealing money or family valuables
    • Increase in sleep
    • Lack of hygiene or care for personal appearance
    • Slurred speech or incoherence
    • Disinterest in former hobbies
    • Unmotivated behavior, including poor performance at school or work
    • Withdrawal from social situations, family, and old friends
    • Spending time with new, unexpected friends
    • Hostility toward loved ones
    • Avoiding eye contact
    • Wearing long pants or long sleeves to disguise needle marks despite warm temperatures
  • Paraphernalia associated with heroin use:
    • Burned spoons
    • Syringes or needles not needed for medical purposes
    • Shoes with missing laces (can be used to tie off injection points)
    • Plastic bags with a white powder residue
    • Straws with burn marks
    • Gum wrappers or bits of aluminum foil with burn marks
  • Signs of heroin use indicating increased tolerance:
    • Weight loss
    • A runny nose not connected to other illnesses
    • Visible track marks on arms
    • Bruises, scabs, or cuts on the arms due to skin picking
    • Infected injection sites

See the Signs of Heroin Use in Your Teen? Get Drug Testing Today.

If you suspect your teen of heroin use, get them the help they need. The first step is to confirm your suspicions with drug testing by Test Smartly Labs of Kansas City. Our reliable, confidential walk-in labs offer a variety of drug tests that yield quick results. Call (816) 875-0464 today to learn more about our drug testing services in Kansas City.

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