In 2018, almost 15,000 American deaths were tied to heroin. This is a sad truth, and a big part of what we do at Granite Recovery Centers is try to save lives. This takes an emotional toll on our professionals because we care about each person who contacts us and walks through our doors, no matter what type of substance use disorder a person is dealing with, including heroin.
What that number of overdose deaths tells you about heroin is that for every 100,000 Americans, five of them would die because of the drug. The numbers are getting slightly better, but our work is not done. There are many people out there who need help, and we’re going to be here to provide it.
One way we can help is by shining a light on what heroin track marks look like. If you can identify these types of marks, you’ll be able to provide support to others. This is important because it can give you a clue that someone might be struggling with substance use disorder.
Heroin is everywhere. It can affect people of every race and socioeconomic level. The belief that it won’t happen at home or near you can blind you, and that could be dangerous.
The sooner you realize there could be a problem, the sooner you can contact Granite Recovery Centers. We can help you explain our treatment programs to your loved one if you need to. If we work together, we may be able to stop this substance use disorder before things get worse.
What Do Heroin Track Marks Look Like?
The reality is that drugs that involve a shot are some of the most dangerous drugs out there. It’s understandable why someone would consider something like this.
IV drug use is usually stronger than other types of drug use. Most of the time, the high a person experiences when taking the drug this way takes effect much faster. Immediate gratification is something we can all understand. This is the reason we love to experience things that makes us feel happy at the moment. This is why it’s hard to resist ice cream or something similar. It’s also the reason why we don’t like things that don’t provide this type of quick pleasure.
While it’s human nature to seek instant gratification, that doesn’t mean IV drug use is good. What it means is that we understand why people might want it. Our team isn’t here to judge; we’re here to illuminate a problem and find solutions.
You or a loved one can fall victim to a substance use disorder, and we’re here to help. People can be easily seduced by this drug, and we’ve heard many heartbreaking stories.
The following are some reasons people might start using heroin:
• It’s an upgrade from a less potent drug
• It’s a way to escape from physical or emotional abuse
• Self-imposed or peer pressure
• Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues like PTSD
As you can see, many things can drive some people to heroin. Part of what we do here is try to discover if there’s something else that’s fueling this substance use disorder through programs like our dual diagnosis treatment program. Discovering these issues can make a difference.
The aforementioned list couldn’t possibly cover all the reasons people fall victim to heroin. We know that because the stories we’ve heard vary so much. Still, we understand this disorder didn’t just fall out of the sky and land on your loved one. Part of what we do here is dissect the disorder, and we take our time until we know what we’re dealing with. We find that the more we understand, the better our approach to the substance use disorder will be.
While most drugs don’t leave any physical marks behind, IV heroin use does, and it’s important to know what those marks are. We hope this information will only be educational and that you never have to use it.
The way we help is by educating. The following are some physical signs left behind by IV heroin use:
• Sores on the arms are common with fresh track marks.
• Scars are more common with older track marks.
• Bruises can show up after injecting heroin. This normally happens because the needle is blunt.
• There may be damage around the puncture area. Sometimes, the skin might crack or even bleed.
• After long-term usage, a person might develop scars in several areas along a vein. The scars will appear like a track.
• Skin popping may also begin to occur. This is a big lump of skin over the puncture area. It’s happening because scar tissue is building up.
• A track mark can appear like a white or pink-like scar on the area where the puncture occurred.
• You might notice a vein that looks darker than normal. You know you’re loved one best. If you notice vein changes, then trust that instinct.
• Track marks have a certain look. Most of the time, they look long and relatively skinny. Once they get old enough, they could look round or oblong.
It’s important to point out that you won’t find these types of physical signs just in the forearm of a person. You could find them on legs, toes, legs, hands, or even the neck.
Every so often, a person could develop a skin infection. This usually happens because IV use is quite dangerous. The chances that the user knows what they’re doing or is being sanitary is low. Near the infection site, you might see redness, irritation, or an abscess around the puncture area.
Understanding the signs of IV drug use is one thing, but the reality is that heroin use shows up in a lot of ways. If you want to be on alert, it’s wise to learn all the signs you can.
Other Signs of Heroin Use
Knowing the physical signs is a good thing, but there’s much more to learn. For example, a person who’s using the drug can see the scars and marks. This makes some of these folks consciously cover themselves up a bit.
The person might start wearing long shirts or sweaters. A person who normally wears long-sleeve clothing will be harder to spot, but if you know they normally don’t wear long-sleeves, then this should be relatively easy to notice.
If it’s cold, this person might be able to explain the sudden wardrobe change. The problem is that the person might start using this clothing all the time even when the temperature is warm. At that point, you should be suspicious that something might be going on.
People trying to hide marks will also start wearing other things they normally wouldn’t. If your loved one normally wears shorts or something that shows off his or her legs but suddenly starts wearing pants, then that might be a sign. You might notice the person wearing gloves or turtlenecks. Some people might wear sweaters with hoodies to hide marks on their necks. Of course, some of these could just be personal style choices, but if you notice these changes and other signs mentioned here, then you should be suspicious.
What a person wears isn’t the only thing you want to watch out for. You should also consider paraphernalia related to IV heroin use. A person who’s using this drug is going to have the tools to do so. Sometimes, the items are in their room but not always. These items might be in a vehicle or some other place around the house where they think you won’t look.
Normally, the tools used to shoot up are kept together. You might find the tools in a little bag or box. In this bag, you’ll find a spoon, a needle, a lighter, and a syringe. You’ll probably find some type of cloth or cotton balls in this bag or box as well.
These things are normally used to inject a drug into the veins. That’s exactly what’s happening here as tragic as it might feel to you. If you discover these things, it’s important to give us a call. We can help you move on from this harrowing moment and help you figure out what to do next.
You should know a few behavioral changes as well. These changes could be signs telling you that heroin use could be happening.
Now, you should keep in mind that these behavioral changes can show up whether the drug is being injected or not. People can snort or smoke the drug, and these behavioral changes will still be present. The following are some changes you should know about.
• At times, people who abuse this particular drug start to lose friends. They don’t care to spend time with people they knew. After a while, they might start making new friends; these friends may display the same signs of heroin use.
• A person using heroin might start having money troubles. Even if this person is usually good with money, at some point, he or she won’t care to be. Users might sell things they normally wouldn’t or always seek to borrow money from others. Some users even resort to stealing. They might steal from family members, but they may steal from others, too.
• People who are using this type of drug don’t always make the smartest decisions. This could lead some to get in trouble with the law. On top of that, they might be hanging out with people who might commit a crime, too. Either way, if your loved one suddenly starts to get in trouble with the law, then there might be an issue.
• Malnutrition might also be a sign of a problem. A person who’s using heroin will stop caring so much about eating throughout the day. The drug could exasperate weight loss. It can start looking quite bad, no matter how much they deny the problem.
• Mood swings could also show up. These could show up as major aggression and usually for no reason. Sometimes, it shows up as depression. If you don’t recognize the irrational emotional swings your loved one is displaying, then you should worry.
Hopefully, this information is not needed. Still, knowing all of this should help you feel more comfortable because it means that you can see the signs of this disorder early on, which can help you get help as quickly as possible.
We hope you give us a chance if you think someone you loved one is using heroin. Granite Recovery Centers is here to help and guide the family back to a place they recognize. Heroin can wreak havoc on more than just the user; it can affect everyone related to the user, too. We want to help everyone, so please don’t hesitate to call. Our team is ready to talk and ready to fight the issue.