Teens, heroin and health disorders


Heroin continues to be one of the most powerful and physically addictive of all controlled substances. As an opiate, it is derived from morphine and produces intense euphoria for users. Yet with continued use, the potential for physical addiction is incredibly high. There is also the risk of health problems, legal troubles and death by overdose. Those who become addicted to heroin often find themselves in complete submission to the drug and loved ones or life responsibilities will often be neglected as a result.

Signs to watch for

Parents are already aware of the dangers of heroin abuse and its destructive power. Still, there is no harm in being properly informed of symptoms in order to better spot them. Parents should be reasonably concerned if they have spotted a number of changes in their teen’s behavior. This could include avoidance of a daily routine, such as neglecting chores or not going to school. The teen could also be neglecting personal appearance or hygiene. Any abrupt changes in a young person’s peer group, where they hang out or in their personal interests could also indicate possible drug use.

Of course, some of the more obvious and unpleasant signs of heroin use can also appear such as nausea or vomiting. This can be expected if a young person has developed dependence and is withdrawing from the drug.

Further signs that an adolescent is under the influence can include garbled speech patterns,  unbalanced coordination, compromised thinking patterns, anger or irritability and paranoia.

Though patients will often be cognizant of their perception of not being logical or rational, they will often respond in abnormal ways due to the drug’s effects. This could include intense fears, compulsions and panicky behavior. Anxiety is common during a detox period and there could be trepidation in facing withdrawal from the heroin. In cases of dual diagnosis where a client has attempted to self-medicate with opiates for anxiety symptoms, he or she will first need to address the troubles stemming from the drug physically and eventually psychologically. A teen using heroin to cope with depression  will also need to detox and find help as the combination of drug and disorder instead causes dangerous effects such as unpredictable mood swings, suicidal thoughts and the stressful complications of dependence.

Many of the secondary effects of becoming hooked on heroin are associated with lower quality of life. Greater odds of being cut off and unavailable to loved ones often occurs as the drug takes greater precedence in the user’s life. Of course, heroin abuse can also lead to mounting legal and financial troubles, as well as consequences at school or work.

Associated dangers and risks

Much like any other drug, heroin use presents a whole hosts of adverse effects for the user. If teens are using heroin with a needle, they will be subjecting themselves to numerous health risks, including a greater potential for transmittable diseases, such as HIV. The area where the user has been shooting up could be infected as result. Another danger is health risks to the user’s cardiovascular system including blood clots in the veins or arteries which increases the risk for strokes and heart attacks. Some that do not suffer a fatal overdose will instead risk being in a coma for an indefinite period.

A user who is in the early stages of withdrawal could experience perspiration, aching muscles, difficulty sleeping and more. Later on, the teen could be more prone to diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and other unpleasant responses. It is imperative that parents know the signs to look for when a teen has overdosed. Physical signs such as skin that is cold to the touch in addition to any unusual breathing patterns such as slowed breathing or lack of breathing altogether could indicate an overdose and should be treated immediately.

Finding help

In breaking free from the cycle of addiction, young people can have far greater odds of living a normal, healthy life. Most important of all, they will not be risking their lives altogether by becoming a victim of heroin and its dangers. White River Academy is a therapeutic boarding academy that families can trust to help teen boys struggling with substance abuse, mental health disorders or a combination of both known at a dual diagnosis. For more information on how we can best assist you or a loved one today, please call 866-520-0905.

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