Heroin is an opioid narcotic that is synthesized from morphine, a powerful drug that comes from certain types of poppy plants. While both morphine and heroin are very addictive, heroin is generally several times more potent than morphine, and often contains a number of synthetic (and potentially toxic) additives.1 By the time heroin is sold on the streets, it is in the form of white powder, brown powder, or sticky black tar.

Heroin is a deadly drug. Just a few uses can trigger an addiction that is impossible to shake without medical and psychotherapeutic treatment. If you believe that your loved one is using heroin, you have every right to be concerned. Continued use of heroin and other opioids can lead to the development of an addiction, health problems, and a host of social consequences that are difficult to overcome.

“I have everything that I wish I would have had when I was using, but today I have so much more in recovery,” writes Tylar A. of Heroes in Recovery.“At first, heroin promised me a lot and recovery didn’t promise me anything. Once I started working the steps, though, I didn’t want to stop. Today, I’m ecstatic about life. I never thought I would be happy to be alive. I do everything I possibly can to make sure my daughter does not have to worry about her dad getting high.”

Learn more about heroin abuse treatment options today by contacting us at Black Bear Lodge.

The Influence of Heroin

Heroin works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and affecting the user’s experience of pain and reward.2When under the influence of the drug, your loved one likely feels no pain and experiences a high. Unfortunately, those same changes to brain functioning also affect the user’s physical functions, depressing their blood pressure and their breathing, which can be fatal.

What does this look like to the outside observer? Family members may note that their loved one under the influence of heroin may:

  • Nod off as if they are falling asleep
  • Be unable to hold a coherent conversation, focus, or be present
  • Have flushed skin
  • Have extremities that feel sluggish
  • Experience mood swings or flu-like symptoms during heroin withdrawal

Heroin overdose is one devastating effect of heroin use. Overdoses can occur suddenly, and sometimes seemingly without explanation. Sometimes long-term heroin users can misjudge their tolerance level, or the strength of their dose, which may lead to an immediate life-threatening situation. Finding your loved one with shallow breathing, a bluish tint to skin or nails, and a nonresponsive state indicates a need for immediate medical intervention.

Signs Heroin May Be In Your Loved One’s Life

Almost everyone who does heroin– whether they abuse the drug irregularly or take repeated daily doses – must purchase their drugs from a supplier. Often, regular users of the drug have multiple people they turn to when they’re ready to buy.

One sign of heroin abuse includes cryptic texts or phone conversations that may precede these transactions. Street names for the drug and obscure references to locations for exchange can be a tipoff that your family member is meeting someone to buy heroin.

Common slang terms for the drug include:

  • Dope
  • Smack
  • H
  • Junk
  • Skag

Heroin Paraphernalia

There are a number of ways to use heroin, including snorting the drug, smoking the substance in a pipe, or injecting it with a needle (either in a vein or in a muscle).

Finding anything related to heroin abuse among your loved one’s possessions can be a sign of the problem:

  • Needles
  • Cookers or burned spoons
  • Cottons (mini pieces of cotton)
  • Tiny tubes of sterile water
  • Pipes stained black
  • Razor blades, mirrors, surfaces with scrapes and powder residue (for snorting the drug)
  • Tiny baggies or pieces of plastic wrap with white, brown or black residue

Does Your Loved One Need Help?

Signs of any of these issues can be a sign of a drug problem that requires treatment. Don’t allow your loved one to fall victim to heroin addiction. Contact us today at Black Bear Lodge and get the information you need about effective treatment options before it’s too late. Call 706-914-2327 now.


1 About Methadone and Buprenorphine. Drug Policy Alliance. New York, 2006. Edition: 2nd. Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2017.

2 National Institute on Drug Abuse. What is Heroin? Jul 2017. Web. Accessed 15 Dec 2017.