With Heroin becoming part of the wave of addictive drug use around the country, there are signs that parents, and everyone, can watch for in teens that may indicate who's using.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and anti-drug experts, these are some of the warning signs:
-- Heroin use can affect your teen's appearance. Sedative drugs, of which heroin is one, cause a person's pupils to dilate widely. Users often doze off, called "nodding," shortly after injecting heroin. Is your child wearing long-sleeved clothes in the summer to hide needle puncture marks and bruises from injecting the drug? Those snorting heroin can have nosebleeds, and those who smoke it can exhibit burn marks on their fingers and mouth.
-- Constant requests for money with nothing to show for it are common. Opiate users eventually build up tolerance to the drugs, so they need increasing amounts to achieve the same effects.
-- Behavioral changes, such as diminished interest in school, extracurricular activities and regular friends, indifference or even sleepiness. For those addicted to the drug, jitters, stomach and muscle pains and irritability signal the body's need for another dose.
-- Keep an eye out for paraphernalia, which can include:
Syringes and orange syringe caps. (Be sure to check the sock drawer, a lot of time kids will hide an entire pack of needles in a sock and bury it at the back of a drawer or closet.)
Small wax bags with or without a stamp on them.
Spoons with burn marks left when the user heats the heroin in water to make it injectable.
Clear pills with or without brown/white powder in them. Sometimes dealers use empty herb pills to put the heroin in. The pills can be bought at any drug store and emptied of their original contents. Then the dealers fill them up with heroin and use them for distribution.
Straws, half pens without ink, rolled up dollar bills, razor blades, credit cards w/ powder on them. These are used by those who snort the drug.
Very small cotton balls, or pieces of cigarette filters. These are used to filter the heroin before injecting.