Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Written by Chloe Nicosia

The Most Notable Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Since 2010, heroin overdose statistics rose sharply from under 4,000 in 2010 to over 15,000 in 2016. The spike in heroin overdose is alarming and might be a byproduct of the prescription opioid abuse, which also saw a large increase in use over that time period. A heroin addiction can be fatal. Realizing that the symptoms of heroin addiction are present can be the only warning before meeting fatal consequences.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what the common symptoms of heroin addiction are as well as the heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Signs of Recent Use

When a person uses heroin, they appear to be in an extreme state of relaxation. The signs and symptoms of heroin addiction in a person who has just used the drug are as follows:

  • Dry or cotton mouth.
  • An overly-relaxed appearance with arms and legs seemingly heavy.
  • Disorientation.
  • Their pupil size becomes very small.
  • There is usually a shortness of breath.
  • Falling asleep suddenly along with states of hyper alertness.
  • A sudden change in the person’s behavior.


Heroin users will often leave their drug paraphernalia lying around or hidden just out of sight. They may be left in their car, in their room or any other place where the person frequents. They include the following:

  • Plastic baggies with traces of a white, powdery substance.
  • Shoelaces missing from shoes that are used to tie-off an area before injecting.
  • Burnt aluminum foil or similar materials.
  • Glass or metal pipes.
  • Spoons with burn marks.
  • Straws with melted or burnt ends.
  • Used syringes and needles.

Behavioral Signs

Among the heroin side effects are drastic changes to a person’s behavior. Addiction is a disease that becomes all-encompassing in the person’s life and the things they once enjoyed become a distant memory. The following are some of the heroin side effects on a person’s behavior:

  • More time is spent sleeping, even in the middle of the day.
  • Secretive and deceptive behavior.
  • Slurred speech as if they have been drinking alcohol.
  • Their personal hygiene habits can be lacking.
  • They may seem unmotivated to achieve goals they once had.
  • Hobbies and other activities become less important.
  • A decline in work or school performance.
  • Constantly wearing long sleeves to hide possible injection points.
  • Isolation from friends and family.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Another of the symptoms of heroin addiction is withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms occur because of the body becoming dependent on a substance. The symptoms of heroin addiction are generally described as terrible flu-like symptoms. You may notice some of these signs in the person. The symptoms are as follows:

  • An intense craving that is near-impossible to ignore.
  • Chills across the skin.
  • Teary eyes and a runny nose.
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Cramps in the body which might cause muscle spasms.
  • Heavy sweating.
  • Aching in the muscles and bones.
  • Unexplained fever.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Restlessness.
  • Agitation.


Effective treatment for heroin addiction is possible. Some of the most intensive programs are advised, such as residential rehab. Such a program removes the person from their home life and places them into rehab for the duration of their early recovery. This helps them stay clean to give the treatment a chance at being successful. Relapse prevention and working on the issues that caused their substance abuse is the priority in rehab.

Get help for a loved one’s addiction through the rehabs at Better Addiction Care. Call us at 1.800.429.7690 today.