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Characteristics of Heroin Addicts

author image Carole Anne Tomlinson
Carole Anne Tomlinson is a registered nurse with experience in rehabilitation, nutrition, chemical dependency, diabetes and health problems related to the elderly. Tomlinson holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice and is presently working on her master's degree in nursing. Her screenplays have been viewed by Merchant Ivory, Angela Lansbury and Steven King's associates.
Characteristics of Heroin Addicts
Someone on heroin may be withdrawn and not pay attention to his or her hygiene. Photo Credit: Alexey Klementiev/Hemera/Getty Images

Heroin, one of the most addictive opiates, can cause a long-term and chronic disease of the drug addiction. reports heroin as one of the most addictive substances and rates it as the most influential in the “war on drugs.” The quick euphoric feeling called the “rush,” which occurs within seconds after self-injection, remains continually sought by the heroin drug addict, reports. The heroin addict’s moods and thought processes become altered by the psychological and physiological needs of the drug. Getting more of the drug becomes the daily goal for this addict.

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Underweight and Pale

The heroin addict usually appears underweight and pale. Typically, the drug takes the place of food in the addict’s mind, and he seeks the needle and the spoon along with the drug to run his life. He needs the drug continually or withdrawal begins within a few hours of not using it. Weight loss occurs due to the suppression of appetite associated with heroin.

Irritability and Mood Alteration

Irritability occurs because of the drug’s influence on the person’s sense of well- being. The addict constantly worries about the potential of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from heroin includes body aches, chills, hot and cold sweats, and severe stomach cramps, as well as diarrhea, the National Institute of Drug Abuse reports. These flu-like symptoms occur when the individual does not keep up with the dose to which the body has become accustomed.

Altered Brain Function

Brain malfunction occurs as heroin enters the brain, the National Institute of Drug Abuse states. The addict may have trouble solving daily problems, or may have show signs of confusion in his daily activities. With all of his attention focused on getting and taking the drug, he also may not pay attention to personal hygiene.

Needle Marks

The person who frequently injects heroin, shows needle marks and collapsed veins, according to the The addict may have infections that occur on his skin, or along the tracks of the veins from using shared, dirty needles.

Hepatitis and AIDS

Indicators of heroin use include diseases such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, caused by the human immunodeficiency virus, as well as the hepatitis C virus. Treatment reports these as common diseases associated with heroin addiction. Drug users may share needles and any infection the person has will spread to the other participant. Sharing needles becomes common when the drug use has increased and no longer classifies as an experimental phase, but a needed part of life to prevent withdrawal from occurring.

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