Heroin Eyes – Constricted Pupils From Heroin Use

There are a number of signs and symptoms that may indicate a person has been abusing heroin, but the eyes are a quick giveaway.

Heroin Eyes

When a person is abusing drugs, there are several observable signs that they are under the influence. One of the most noticeable signs a person is abusing heroin is how their eyes are affected.

Heroin, as with other opioids, causes the pupils of the eyes to constrict dramatically, to a pinpoint size. The eyelids may also droop and the eyes become bloodshot.

The eyes of a person abusing heroin can appear dull, lifeless, and unable to focus. This is a stark contrast to the colored section of the eye, the iris, that appears bright and magnified.

About 7-10 hours after using heroin, the eyes will start to lacrimate, or tear up, and give the appearance that they are sinking in. They may even have black circles around them.

The scientific term for pupil constriction is called miosis. Miosis occurs when heroin reaches the brain and begins affecting opioid receptors and the parasympathetic nervous system.

What Is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid, derived from a specific poppy plant. This drug can be smoked, snorted or injected.

When a person abuses heroin, it causes a chain reaction in the brain that results in a rush of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is essentially the “feel good” neurotransmitter.

Over time, the brain of a person addicted to heroin will stop producing its own dopamine, relying only on the heroin for that release. The person will try to repeat those previous euphoric highs, only to be let down. This is what is referred to as, “chasing the dragon”.

Once this vicious cycle has begun, if the person attempts to stop abusing heroin, they will get sick. These uncomfortable, extremely intense flu-like symptoms are withdrawal symptoms. One of the only ways to stop these “dope sick” symptoms is to abuse more heroin.

Warning Signs Of A Heroin Addiction

There are several other signs of heroin addiction, not just pinpoint pupils.

Some of the more common immediate side effects are:

  • dry mouth
  • fatigue
  • itchy skin
  • slurred speech
  • confusion
  • nodding out
  • nausea

The following are additional signs that a person may be abusing or addicted to heroin or other drugs:

  • needle marks
  • drug paraphernalia
  • mood swings
  • weight loss
  • gray skin tone
  • avoiding friends
  • constipation
  • missing money or items

Long-Term Effects Of Heroin Addiction

Over time, heroin use can significantly damage the body.

Some of the more serious long-term effects of heroin abuse are as follows:

  • chronic pulmonary diseases
  • heart problems
  • skin infections
  • liver disease
  • mood disorders
  • necrotic tissues
  • collapsed veins
  • blood clots
  • sexual dysfunction
  • infection diseases
  • seizures
  • coma
  • death

Treating Heroin Addiction

Because opioid addiction has become an epidemic across the United States, the federal government has been allocating additional funding to find the most efficient and effective ways to treat opioid addiction.

Substance abuse treatment facilities that treat opioid addiction require certifications and are subject to regulations and inspections at the state and federal level to ensure compliance.

Because these facilities have been standardized and required to provide this standard level of care for opioid addiction, it is important to find a location that carries all the certifications required of an opioid addiction treatment facility.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

A medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, uses specific medications to help a person who is addicted to opioids to stop taking them by reducing the withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

These medications provide stabilization, reduce risk of relapse, and allow them to focus on recovery instead of surviving detox. While some take these medications long term, they are typically recommended for short term use on a tapering schedule of less than a year.

It is important to maintain a monitoring system for individuals prescribed MAT medications, as they do have a potential for abuse if misused.

These medications include:

Methadone: This drug helps by reducing cravings and symptoms of withdrawal in individuals addicted to opioids. Methadone also blocks the effects of opioids.

Methadone is given under supervision of the prescribing physician. This often means daily visits to the clinic to be given the medication. Over a time period of proven stability, a patient may be allowed to make appointments further apart and take medication home in between.

Methadone is recommended as part of a 12-month treatment option, although some long-term maintenance has been acknowledged.

Naltrexone: Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors in the body, and reduces opioid cravings.

Because it is a non-narcotic, there is little to no potential for abuse. Because naltrexone blocks opioid receptors, if a person relapses while taking naltrexone, they will not feel the effects of the opioid they’ve ingested.

Buprenorphine: When taken as directed and as part of a complete treatment program, buprenorphine has been considered safe and effective in the treatment of opioid use disorder.

Buprenorphine can be prescribed in many facilities, such as physician offices, hospitals, health departments, and correctional facilities. Buprenorphine can also be dispensed at a certified opioid treatment program.

Withdrawal And Detox From Heroin

Heroin withdrawal is brutal and incredibly painful. Without appropriate support and supervision, a relapse can easily occur, simply to avoid the symptoms of withdrawal.

Attending a medically supervised detox will ensure 24-hour monitoring, and the delivery of appropriate medications to help ease the withdrawal symptoms and help reduce cravings.

Treatment For Heroin Addiction

When seeking rehabilitation for an opioid use disorder, like heroin addiction, it is important to find a location that offers comprehensive care for individuals who are both physically dependent on and addicted to opioids.

Our addiction treatment experts at Spring Hill Recovery recommend a long-term residential program that is certified to treat opioid use disorder. These programs typically include different therapeutic interventions, meetings, community involvement, vocational training, educational programs, and a thorough aftercare program.

Contact Spring Hill Recovery today, we have the resources necessary to find a program that works for you or your loved one.

Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team

Published on: August 10, 2020

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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