Heroin Information

Over the last year heroin use has increased exponentially in Porter County. Below is some information collected that may help.

Heroin comes in a number of forms from a white powder to a dark brown powder. The color changes due to impurities. White is generally pure. Only a portion of the small 1/4 inch square zip lock bag is heroin. The remainder is sugar, starch, powdered milk, or quinine.

Another form of heroin is commonly called "black tar." The color of this substance varies from brown to black and it is sticky like roofing tar or hard like coal.

Heroin Use

Heroin can be snorted or smoked. This often results in redness in the nose or mouth. These methods are becoming more common. Use of a needle and syringe are also used. In this method the heroin is put on a spoon with water. A lighter or other flame is used to bring the substance to a boil. A piece of cotton is used to filter out the large unmelted substances. The liquid is then drawn into the syringe. The heroin is then injected. Injection can be a surface injection called "skin popping." It can also be injected deeper in the skin or directly into a vein.

Many users avoid using the inner arm. Injection can be under fingernails or toenails, under the tongue or in the legs.

In the beginning most people will attempt to keep the use hidden. Once use is regular, the focus becomes getting the drug; hiding it becomes non-important. Needle sharing makes the user at high risk of HIV infection, hepatitis, and other disease.

What to Look For

  • Appearance
  • Needle marks
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Redness in nasal area
  • Constricted pupils
  • Tremors
  • Periods of euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Clammy skin
  • Off color skin tone
  • Acne break out
  • Physical Changes
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Panic
  • Chills
  • Slurred speech
  • Behavior Changes
  • Secretiveness
  • Withdrawal from family
  • Drop in grades
  • Associating with unknown crowd
  • Lack of interest in usual activities
  • Unusual moodiness
  • Weight loss
  • Other Signs
    • Unexplained use of money
    • Possessions sold or pawned
    • Thefts from family
    • Extra mileage on vehicle

Ways To Avoid the Problem Before It Begins

  • Talk to your child
  • Keep in touch with school officials or other professionals
  • Working with your child
  • Don't ignore the signs or warnings of professionals
  • Monitor their time and friends closely
  • Be suspicious
  • Monitor child's money closely (don't allow them to have sums of money)
  • Don't let your child carry a pager
  • Monitor your child's telephone use and internet use closely

How To Respond To The Problem

Response to this problem needs to incorporate treatment and accountability. Physical treatment of the withdrawal is important. Changing the thinking pattern that led to this problem can be done through counseling. Realizing the current cost and future costs of this behavior is essential to overcoming the drive to use. Contacting the police and getting the court involved can aid in motivating change and monitoring that change.

  • Don't deny or minimize the problem (Don't believe that your child has only done it once and never used any other drug)
  • Withdrawal can include major physical problems that will likely result in needing medical observation
  • Realize it will be difficult
  • Intensive out-patient or inpatient treatment
  • Be prepared to go through a full range of emotional responses from the user
  • Get rid of all alcohol and lock all drugs in the house in secure locations
  • Get involved in a 12 step NA program with constant support and stick with it
  • The user will have to fully change their lifestyle, including friends, and recreational areas
  • Even after time never fully trust the individual not to use again