Resources

Addictions Hotline of New Jersey: 800-238-2333

Dial 211 or 1-800-238-2333 which provides trained clinically supervised telephone specialists who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to educate, assist, interview and/or refer individuals and families battling addictions.  Calls are free and information shared is confidential.

 

Opioid Addiction Symptoms and Effects

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Abuse?

Opiates blocks the brain's ability to perceive pain and produce a "downer" effect that rapidly induces a state of relaxation and euphoria.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • Constricted (small) pupils
  • Sudden changes in behavior or actions
  • Disorientation
  • Cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off
  • Droopy appearance, as if extremities are heavy

Behavioral signs of Abuse include:

  • Lying or other deceptive behavior
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Sleeping
  • Increase in slurred, garbled or incoherent speech
  • Sudden worsening of performance in school or work, including expulsion or loss of jobs
  • Poor hygiene and lacking physical appearance
  • Loss of motivation
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Lack of interest in hobbies and favorite activities
  • Repeatedly stealing or borrowing money from loved ones
  • Unexplained absence of valuables
  • Hostile behaviors toward loved ones
  • Regular comments indicating a decline in self esteem or worsening body image

Paraphernalia used to prepare, inject or consume heroin:

  • Needles or syringes not used for other medical purposes
  • Burned silver spoons
  • Aluminum foil or gum wrappers with burn marks
  • Missing shoelaces (used as a tie off for injection sites)
  • Straws with burn marks
  • Small plastic bags, with white powdery residue
  • Water pipes or other pipe
  • Wearing long pants or long sleeves to hide needle marks, even in very warm weather

Users build tolerance to heroin, leading to increases in the frequency and quantity of heroin consumption. With growing tolerance, more definitive physical symptoms of heroin abuse and addiction emerge:

  • Weight loss
  • Runny nose (not explained by other illness or medical condition)
  • Needle track marks visible on arms
  • Infections or abscesses at injection site
  • For women, loss of menstrual cycle (amenorrhea)
  • Cuts, bruises or scabs from skin picking

Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?

  • Profuse sweating
  • Severe muscle and bone aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling of heaviness
  • Intense cramping in limbs, resulting in "kicking"
  • Crying
  • Insomnia
  • Cold sweats
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Side Effects of Heroin Dependence?

Short-term physical side effects of heroin use include:

  • Depressed respiration (shallow breathing)
  • Clouded mental functioning
  • Decreased pain from either physical conditions or emotional challenges
  • Uncontrollable feelings of itching that result in compulsive scratching or picking at skin (itchy blood)
  • Heroin abuse and dependence produce serious medical side effects, which may directly or indirectly result in death:
  • Heart problems, including infection of heart lining and valves
  • Infectious diseases spread by shared needles (HIV and hepatitis B and C)
  • Chronic pneumonia or other pulmonary diseases
  • Blood clots or tissue death resulting from collapsed veins or impurities
  • Bacterial infections
  • Liver disease
  • Arthritis and other rheumatologic problems
  • Seizures