What Does Heroin Look Like?

Knowing the Appearance of Heroin to Help a Loved One

With the rise of opioid overdose deaths and addiction across the US, many people have become increasingly concerned that their loved ones may be struggling with substance abuse. If you are worried that someone you know is abusing heroin, knowing how to recognize the signs of drug abuse can be crucial for stopping these habits and getting them the help they need.

Keep reading to find out what does heroin look like, then learn how you can recognize the signs of heroin abuse and addiction. Plus we’ll review how you can get yourself or your loved one the help they may need to stop using for good!

What Is Heroin?

What Is Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive and extremely dangerous drug. It is mainly derived from prescription opioids like morphine, which are produced from opium poppy plants native to South America, and are commonly used to help treat chronic and severe pain.

Heroin is one of the most commonly abused illicit street drugs, as well as one of the main drugs found associated with opioid deaths across the US. While heroin was originally used to help treat pain, it is no longer prescribed for medical purposes due to its habit-forming nature.

Currently, the Drug Enforcement Administration classifies heroin as a Schedule I controlled substance, due to its lack of medical usage and its extremely addictive nature.

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What does Heroin Look Like: Recognizing the Different Types of Heroin

There are several different common forms of heroin that are commonly abused throughout the US. This drug may be found as a white or dark brown powder, which may resemble powdered milk or brown sugar with brown heroin.

It can also come in the form of a black sticky substance, which is referred to as black tar heroin. This can also come in a dark orange color and is the most unrefined version of heroin. Finally, in its purest form, heroin can be found as a pure white powder form.

Of all its different forms, this pure heroin will be the most difficult and expensive to acquire. This, however, does not make this type of heroin any safer for use than its other forms. If anything, a higher purity heroin increases the chance of overdose, due to its rarity and potency. When in its white or brown powder form heroin may be obtained in a small plastic baggie, or in any other easily transportable tool.

Black tar heroin is often melted into liquid heroin, which can be more easily and discreetly distributed in eye drop bottles and other containers, making it more difficult to detect than it would be in other forms.

What Does Heroin Abuse and Addiction Look Like?

Heroin Abuse

There are several signs of heroin abuse and addiction that you can look out for when trying to determine if a loved one is struggling with these habits. While not everyone will show all of the exact same behaviors of substance abuse, the most common signs may include:

  • Neglecting their work, school or home tasks and responsibilities.
  • Neglecting their personal hygiene.
  • Constantly asking or looking for money and losing this money quickly afterward.
  • Becoming more private, withdrawn, and secretive.
  • Getting into legal trouble or participating in potentially dangerous activities.
  • Losing interest in relationships, activities, and hobbies that they previously enjoyed.
  • Developing communication problems and having problems in their interpersonal lives.
  • Having different eating or sleeping habits.
  • Wearing long sleeves or conservative clothing, even in appropriate situations or weather, usually to hide track marks on their body.
  • Finding heroin paraphernalia around them or places they have been, such as glass pipes, syringes, aluminum foil, etc.

While these are the most common behavioral signs of heroin abuse, there are also several physical and mental side effects that are caused by this drug that can be used to determine if a loved one is currently using heroin.

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What are the Side Effects of Heroin?

Abusing street heroin can cause many of the same side effects that come with abusing prescription painkillers, although they can be much more severe in nature. The most commonly experienced include:

  • Chronic runny nose
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive itching
  • Tremors
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Decreased cognitive functions
  • Disorientation
  • Poor self-control
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Depression

While these are some of the more general side effects, a person’s method of heroin abuse can also have negative side effects. Smoking heroin for a long time, for example, can cause users to develop respiratory problems.

Extended intravenous use can cause bacterial infections, blood-borne diseases (i.e. hepatitis b), collapsed veins, and several other health effects. It is also important to know that, when using heroin over a long period of time, no matter the method of administration, this can cause extensive damage to many of the user’s vital organs.

What Does a Heroin Overdose Look Like?

Heroin Overdose Look Like

Heroin is a fast-acting drug, producing extreme euphoria in a very short amount of time. However, these side effects do not last very long. Because of this, many people will increase their dose or use the drug multiple times in a short time span in order to prolong this euphoric high.

What many of them do not realize, however, is that because of the way heroin works, taking too much too quickly can increase their risk of overdose. Many people also try cutting heroin with other drugs or simultaneously engaging in alcohol abuse, which can also lead to overdose.

With how quickly heroin abuse can become life-threatening, it is important to know how to recognize the signs of overdose in order to get immediate and potentially life-saving help. Some of the most common signs of a heroin overdose include:

  • Cold sweats and clamminess
  • Lips, skin, and/or fingernails turning blue
  • Stomach spasms
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Small pupils
  • Acting delirious or disoriented
  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Extreme hypotension
  • Weak pulse
  • Slow, shallow, labored or completely stopped breathing

If you or anyone else is displaying any of these symptoms, it is important to call for emergency medical help immediately, as heroin overdose can quickly become fatal without proper treatment.

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How is Heroin Addiction Treated?

Now that you know how to recognize the signs of heroin abuse and addiction, you may be wondering what your next step should be. If you have a loved one who is struggling with heroin abuse, there are many treatment programs available to help them overcome heroin addiction.

Heroin users who have been taking this drug for a long period of time will need thorough professional treatment in order to fully overcome their habits of substance abuse. This may require a whole-health approach to their recovery, where both their drug abuse habits and the underlying causes of this behavior can be addressed.

Seeking out professional medical advice, or speaking with addiction specialists, such as the Find Addiction Rehabs representatives, can help you and your loved one understand what treatment options will be best for their recovery needs, and get started on their path to recovery as soon as possible.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Methods and Programs

Residential rehab

There are several different treatment methods available for helping your loved one overcome their substance use habits, as per SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The most common of these include:

It is important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the addiction recovery process. What works for someone else may not work for your loved one. This is why it is important to know what goes into each level of care, and how these may be able to serve your loved one’s recovery needs.

Medical Detox Programs

If your loved one has been struggling with heroin addiction for a long period of time, their treatment process will likely start with a medical detox program. This usually takes place at an inpatient facility and can last for up to a week depending on how severe the addiction is.

When recovering at these treatment facilities, your loved one will be gradually weaned off of heroin under constant medical supervision. This can help manage and even completely prevent them from developing withdrawal symptoms, which can put them at an increased risk of relapse.

Medical detox programs may also provide recovery diets, as well as prescription medications that can further ease the withdrawal process, and help your loved one re-establish a healthy, stable lifestyle upon leaving their treatment facility.

Inpatient/Residential Rehab

Inpatient and residential treatment programs will often be the next step after completing medical detox, as these can give your loved one constant support and a structured, safe environment for them to recover.

This level of care is usually recommended for those with more severe addictions, who could benefit from being able to receive constant emotional and physical support while separated from potentially triggering people, places, and things.

When recovering through inpatient and residential programs, individuals will be able to have access to recovery tools and resources at all times, and have the ability to focus solely on their journey to sobriety.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient Rehab Program

Although inpatient and residential treatment options can be better options for those who require more intensive care, they may also be more expensive. Unfortunately, even with insurance coverage paying for rehab, not everyone may be able to afford this care.

In this case, your loved one may benefit from seeking out outpatient rehab programs. If they do need more intensive care, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient treatment programs may be a good way for them to get this level of support, without having to break the bank or give up their daily tasks and responsibilities to do so.

More standardized outpatient programs can help provide your loved one with emotional support and allow them to build necessary coping skills for maintaining independent sobriety from heroin use, as well as from abusing other substances.

If your loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, outpatient programs can provide them with the necessary recovery tools and resources, sober support, and a long-term approach to their recovery from addiction.

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FAQs in Addition to What Does Heroin Look Like:

Does the Color of Heroin Relate to its Strength?

Black tar heroin is similar in look and appearance to the name, with a goo-like consistency and coloration that ranges from onyx to red-tinged. Pure heroin is most often found as a white powder, though brown heroin can maintain a high purity as well. Black tar is generally less pure than its powdered counterparts, but this is not always the case.

It is worth noting that many forms of heroin are cut with other drugs. Due to its potency, some people think of fentanyl as ‘pure white heroin’ but this is simply false. It is a different, much more potent opioid with a higher risk of overdose.

Does Insurance Cover Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Under the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance providers are required to offer the same level of coverage for addiction and mental health treatment to their clients as they would receive for any other medical or surgical condition.

Some of the most commonly covered addiction treatment services through insurance include medical detox programs, inpatient/residential rehab, and dual diagnosis treatment programs. Of course, this coverage may extend to other services based on your specific care needs.

You can use the Find Addiction Rehabs free insurance verification tool to find out what your insurance provider covers in terms of treatment, or speak with our recovery representatives now to find rehab facilities nationwide that accept your insurance.

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Get Help for Heroin Addiction and Substance Abuse Today!

Making the decision to get help can be difficult, especially if you or your loved one has been struggling with heroin abuse for a long time. But this is not a decision you have to make alone; the Find Addiction Rehabs hotline is available 24/7 to help get you started on your path to sobriety, whenever you are ready.

We can answer all of your recovery questions and find rehab programs nationwide that can provide evidence-based and effective treatment for your drug abuse. So make the right choice, and call now to get started on your recovery journey today!

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