Heroin Use: Signs, Symptoms of Heroin Use and Addiction

Signs of heroin use and heroin addiction are easy to spot once you know what to look for. Learn about symptoms of heroin use and heroin addiction here.

Signs and symptoms of heroin use and heroin addiction are critical to know for anyone who suspects they or a loved one has a problem with heroin use. Even seeing heroin use symptoms for a short period of time can indicate a problem with heroin use. Recognizing the signs of heroin addiction early is key to getting early help and intervention for the addict's best chance at a full heroin recovery.

Heroin Use - Signs of Heroin Use and Heroin Symptoms

Use of heroin signs can be similar to the signs of use for any powerful drug. Heroin use generally involves a major life shift away from family, friends, and work and towards heroin use behaviors. Those around the user may not want to acknowledge the use of heroin symptoms, but it's critical to deal with heroin use as soon as it's seen and to encourage the heroin user to get help.

General heroin symptoms and signs of heroin use include:1

  • Distancing from family and friends, spending more time "out" without reason
  • Decreased performance in work or school
  • Decreased personal care, such as not showering or changing clothes
  • Unexplained expenses

The general signs of heroin use don't point to heroin use specifically, but drug use in general. In order to determine whether the problem is heroin use, heroin symptoms must be noted during heroin use or heroin withdrawal. Noticeable signs of heroin use during drug intake include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dropping in and out of wakefulness
  • Vomiting
  • Flushing of skin
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Restlessness (during withdrawal)

Signs of heroin use should be taken very seriously as heroin symptoms can be lethal. Even if unsure about heroin use or addiction, the heroin user should still be counseled to seek help for heroin use, or any other issue that might be causing the concerning behavior.

Heroin Use - Signs of Heroin Addiction

Signs of heroin addiction include the signs for heroin use but to a greater degree. Once a person has become addicted to heroin, they may have already lost their job, abandoned their family and quit seeing any drug-free friends altogether. Heroin addiction signs include a marked drop in self-care and hygiene to the point where the heroin addict rarely showers, changes clothes or grooms themselves. The biggest sign of heroin addiction is simply that the addict places no value on anything but obtaining and using the drug. The heroin addict has no motivation to do anything other than heroin.

Additional signs of heroin addiction include:

  • Reckless behavior, such as stealing to obtain money to buy heroin
  • Runny nose or constant sniffing - seen in those who snort heroin
  • Needle marks on arms, legs and other parts of the body
  • Slurred speech, confusion
  • Hostility towards others, particularly if confronted with concerns about drug use
  • Skin infections

article references

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2021, December 15). Heroin Use: Signs, Symptoms of Heroin Use and Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: December 30, 2021

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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