A new study by Roosevelt University's Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy shows deaths from heroin overdoses in Chicago's Cook County fell 16 percent during the last decade, but the Chicago metropolitan region still ranks among the worst in the nation for heroin use. Kimberly Dennis, M.D., eating disorder specialist at Chicago's Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, sees the use of heroin regularly from women and girls she treats and knows the importance of awareness and seeking help to overcome this addiction.
"Heroin is exquisitely addictive, especially when injected, because the effect is euphoric, profound and immediate," said Dr. Kimberly Dennis, Medical Director at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, a leader in eating disorder treatment, alcoholism and drug addiction treatment, and treatment for cooccurring disorders. "There is a great need for individuals suffering from heroin addiction to seek treatment, and that many times starts with the family and loved ones of these individuals intervening when they suspect a problem."
Loved ones may notice a number of signs of heroin use, which are visible during and after heroin consumption:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Constricted (small) pupils
- Sudden changes in behavior or actions
- Cycles of hyper alertness followed by suddenly nodding off
- Droopy appearance, as if extremities are heavy
But the above signs are not unique to heroin abuse. More definitive warning signs of heroin abuse include possession of paraphernalia used to prepare, inject or consume heroin, including:
- Needles or syringes not used for other medical purposes
- Burned silver spoons
- Aluminum foil or gum wrappers with burn marks
- Missing shoelaces (used as a tie off for injection sites)
- Straws with burn marks
- Small plastic bags, with white powdery residue
- Water pipes or other pipe
Loved ones must watch for these warning signs and for paraphernalia used in heroin abuse – and seek help immediately. Heroin use is associated with high risks of overdose and death, hepatitis and HIV transmission. But through effective heroin addiction treatment and therapy, lifelong recovery can be achieved.
Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center