Although there are many substances to which a person can become addicted, opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers are considered some of the worst. In the 1990s, OxyContin — the most well-known trade name for oxycodone — grew from the favorite medication of physicians for the treatment of patients’ chronic pain to a full-scale epidemic of painkiller addiction. In the ensuing years policy and law changes, as well as companies making opiate painkillers resistant to abuse, have resulted in many painkiller addicts switching to heroin as their drug of choice. Heroin is arguably the most powerful opioid drug, readily available in most places and much less expensive than opiate painkillers.
Fortunately, heroin addiction has proven to be treatable, but it requires the determination and effort of addicts who want better for themselves. However, recovery is not always a smooth, easy process. Many individuals hit speed-bumps along the way. While relapse as much a part of the recovery process as detoxification and treatment, it’s important for individuals to seek treatment after a relapse so that it remains a slip rather than a regression back into the throes of active addiction. For the friends and family members of recovering heroin addicts, the following are six signs of a heroin relapse.
Becoming Withdrawn from Relationships
Addiction is a disease that makes even the most social individuals withdrawn and distant. Especially when it comes to family members and friends who are concerned about drug use and safety, recovered heroin addicts who have relapsed will quickly become distant. This affords them a buffer between themselves and others, allowing them to recreationally abuse heroin with less worry about their loved ones noticing that they’re intoxicated. Therefore, if a recovered addict is becoming emotionally distant, he or she may have relapsed.
Financial Problems & Lack of Money
Even when one’s drug of choice is relatively inexpensive, a substance abuse habit will always become financially unsustainable. More and more of an addict’s money goes toward supporting his or her drug habit, resulting in the individual being unable to provide for themselves and pay for even essential things like rent, a car payment, gas, insurance, food, and so on. As such, a recovered heroin addict who has relapsed will begin having money problems and will likely begin needing financial assistance from family and friends.
Track Marks or Small Bruises on Limbs
One of the most apparent signs of heroin use is the appearance of track marks on a person’s arms. Track marks can appear like ink pen marks smudged on the skin or like thumbprint-sized bruises, indicating the site of a heroin injection. If a heroin user has relapsed, he or she will have track marks if he or she is an intravenous user. If they are wearing unseasonable clothing that covers their arms and legs, it’s possible that the individual is trying to hide track marks. Women may even attempt to use their makeup to cover their track marks.
Unexplained Drowsiness & Lethargy
Another very common symptom of heroin use is pronounced drowsiness. Opioids act on the body as depressants, making individuals incredibly drowsy and lethargic. By appearances, heroin users appear inexplicably tired and will often have difficulty staying awake. It’s not uncommon to see heroin users falling asleep while sitting up or even standing, which is one of the most telltale signs of an opioid problem. Moreover, heroin users also tend to fall into incredibly heavy and deep sleeps from which they are very, very difficult to wake. If a recovered heroin addict appears to be so excessively drowsy that he or she is on the verge of falling asleep while standing or sitting up, it’s very likely that he or she has relapsed on heroin.
Becoming Defensive or Argumentative
When a person is developing a substance abuse problem that he or she is trying to hide from others, they readily become very defensive and argumentative when they are questioned. Whether it’s about their behavior, appearance, or even just smalltalk, heroin and drug users quickly become defensive and readily create excuses to justify the observations. In some instances, defensiveness can become quite aggressive or violent; doors are often slammed, glasses or plates broken, and other messes made. They’re not usually physically threatening to others; this behavior is an inverse reaction to the guilt and shame that they feel at the thought of others beginning to notice their unusual behaviors. Additionally, this defensiveness may be even more pronounced in the case of a recovered heroin addict’s relapse as the individual will be even more determined to keep the behavior a secret.
Uninterested in Interests & Hobbies
After becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs, a person will soon show decreasing interest in things that he or she used to enjoy. For instance, hobbies frequently fall by the wayside. Interests are suddenly much less interesting. The reason for this is because addicts suffer from a persistent and unrelenting concern as they wonder when and how they will obtain their next fix. Especially when a substance abuse problem has become severe or in the case of a relapse, the individual will be trying to keep his or her drug use a secret while worrying about how they will maintain the appearance of normalcy and sustain a flow of money to pay for a substance abuse habit. To the friends and loved ones of a recovered heroin addict, a sudden disinterest in hobbies and passions could be a sign that the individual has relapsed.
Find Freedom in Recovery with the Palm Beach Institute
Each addict is different. Even though there are a number of behaviors or characteristics that many addicts share, it’s important to remember that these are approximations and not a rule. Moreover, although addiction treatment programs have proven to be effective for many, not every treatment offered by an addiction treatment program will yield optimal results for everyone. For more information about addiction treatment and recovery, call the Palm Beach Institute today. Our team of recovery specialists are available to help those in need find the treatments that will allow them to return to lives of health, happiness, and fulfillment.