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What are the signs of Heroin use?

A neatly folded receipt resembling an envelope. A Q-Tip with the cotton bud plucked off. And who doesn’t have some dirt smudges on their doors or light switches? Unless you are aware, many of these seemingly innocent items go unnoticed.

Knowing signs of opiate and heroin abuse could save a life. It could keep a family together. It could be the first step in getting someone, whom you care about, off of a dangerous, deadly course.

Experts suggest that addicts will almost never be far from their drugs.

They want - they need - immediate and direct access. So this changes the perception on what signs to look for. You are not looking for the drugs themselves necessarily. You are looking for the signs of drug use.

The signs are all around us. Knowing them is important to those who care to intervene. This is not about creating paranoia or false alarm. It is about providing information and insight that will help you help the ones you care about.

Recognizing the signs is only part of it, however. Seeing the framework, the pattern and the big picture of these signs over time, transforms the innocent or common action into an invitation for you to take the first step and ask a question.

Watch the video. Review the detailed information on this page about the most common and abstract signs. Go to the Home page on this site and watch that video. All of this information will frame up this crisis that our community faces with information, statistics and awareness. You may be surprised that the opiate and heroin epidemic is very much alive in our community. In your community.

If you do not know someone affected by Heroin, you will.

Let’s Face It! Heroin and opiate abuse is real and it is killing us.


So now you see some of the signs. You notice a change in behavior, perhaps some physical or environmental cues. Now comes the difficult part: taking action.

Why should you get involved? Is it any of your business? What if you’re wrong?

It can be overwhelming but not if you break it down into manageable steps. First, get more information. Reach out to trained professionals who can help. Call the hotline numbers listed on this website. Share this site with a friend or loved one. You don’t have to assume the whole burden of recovery yourself.

The truth is, you have to act, no matter what. You owe it to the ones you love, to your community and to yourself. Taking no action could be far more devastating.

Early intervention can prevent agony later on - for you and the people you care about.



Take action.

video credits

The signs of Heroin Addiction:

Below are descriptions of some of the signs as they appear in the video, which reveals how addiction can progress over time. Addiction happens in unique ways to every individual, but there are trends. Our information comes from research and narcotics agents who have been at far too many heroin death scenes.

Environmental Signs

Missing vent screws
An addict will keep drugs close, so consider this when searching the personal space for drugs

Burned carpet
Black spots or areas where carpet has been burned, usually from cooked heroin spilling

Torn corners of plastic baggies
Often used to distribute heroin

Burnt foil/spoons/tea candle tins
Used to cook heroin. They accumulate soot from open flames.

Blackened fingers/smudges
Soot from handling burnt foil, spoons

Pen parts/straws
Used to snort heroin or crush opiate pills

Crushed pills/white powder
Crushing opiates to snort results in intense high. Risk of overdose or death is elevated.

Torn Q-tip buds, cut cigarette filters
Used to filter heroin liquid when filling needle

Plastic bottle caps
Used to mix heroin powder with water prior to injecting

Folded receipts, lottery tickets
Innocent looking packaging used to carry heroin powder

Sunglasses case
Or any other obvious object used to disguise contents of a heroin “kit”

Blood spots in sink/bedding/clothes
Injecting veins causes bleeding

Behavioral/Physical Signs

Pill bottles
Addiction requires regular dosage and often. Pill bottles will often travel with addicts where they go.

Money is needed to support habit

Loss of appetite/weight
Opiates suppress appetite. Frequent vomiting makes food unappealing.

Doctor shopping
Finding new physicians to fill prescriptions

Itchy arms/neck/legs
Frequent injections cause skin irritation

Wearing long sleeves
To cover needle marks. Suspect when long sleeves seem inappropriate.

Constricted/pinpoint pupils
Heroin causes this involuntary effect unlike other drugs that dilate (enlarge) pupils.

Looking at phone compulsively, usually when trying to find drugs

Behavior change
A sudden change in routine and mood, suppressed emotions

Social needs are secondary to heroin

Nodding off
Addiction saps body of energy. Heroin causes a sleep-like effect

Sudden change in hygiene
Sudden hair loss, bad complexion, cold sweaty skin, no interest in appearance