9 Key Signs Of Heroin Use

Signs of Heroin Use

Knowing the signs of heroin use could save someone’s life.

Today, with nearly 1 million heroin users in the U.S., we thought it might be a good idea to post about the signs of heroin use. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of heroin use can literally be a matter of life and death. Knowing exactly what you’re look for is the key factor.

The reality of heroin use in America today is no secret. The country is literally in the midst of a heroin epidemic. Statistically speaking fatal overdoses kill more people now than car accidents. Amidst this epidemic is the striking fact that opioids, heroin and prescription painkillers, account for more than six out of every 10 drug deaths. For anyone who might feel untouched by the rise in opioid addiction, consider this statistic, reported earlier this year by The New York Times.

“Deaths from drug overdoses have jumped in nearly every county across the United States, driven largely by an explosion in addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin.”

Forms Of Heroin

An often overlooked factor when looking for heroin use is the packaging the drug comes in, small baggies, tinfoil, cut and folded pieces of paper that might be incidentally discarded in trashcans.

  • Heroin Powder
  • Heroin can come in the form of a powdery or crumbly substance, in colors ranging from off-white to brown.
  • Black-Tar Heroin
    Black tar heroin is the exception in that it is nearly black and instead of being in powder form, it is sticky to the touch.

Heroin Symptoms – Signs of Heroin Use

When trying to determine whether someone is using heroin knowing what heroin looks like, the methods of heroin use and the most common paraphernalia are 3 important key factors.

Heroin, once ingested in any way, gets users intoxicated immediately. Some of the physical manifestations this “high” include the following:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Red spots – “needle tracks”
  • Flushed skin
  • Dry mouth
  • Nodding in & out of sleep
  • Slow breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Slurred speech
  • Sleepy eyes

Due to the nature of heroin addiction, its affect on the brain’s chemical makeup, as well as the physical toll it takes on an individual, users will do their very best to mask a dependency on the drug. Beyond stumbling upon a loved one or friend actually engaged in abusing heroin, it’s important to have a well-rounded understanding of the drug itself, the tools or paraphernalia involved and it’s effect individuals.

How is Heroin Used

man shooting heroin in his armPerhaps the most obvious clue to whether or not someone is actually using heroin are the various tools and apparatus used in the preparation and usage of heroin. The three most common methods of using heroin are snorting, smoking and injecting it.

Each method involves paraphernalia in order to use it:


Glass or metal pipes for smoking heroin.

Snorting Tubes
cut straws, rolled up bills or easily hidden objects that can used to snort heroin in powder form. Look for any small amount of residue on the tip of car or house keys.

About the author

Robert M. has been in recovery since 1988. He is a sponsor and loyal member of AA. He has been working in the drug and alcohol field for nearly 20 years. During that time, he has written industry blogs and articles for a variety of industry websites including Transitions, Malibu Horizons, Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches and Lifeskills of Boca Raton.


This website provides general information and discussion about medicine, health and related subjects. The words and other content provided in this website, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. If the reader or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately licensed physician or other health care worker.

In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor or 911 immediately. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own risk.