What Parents Should Know About Heroin Use

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs out there, and can quickly cause physical dependence and addiction. According to a recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health, almost 40 percent of teens don’t perceive any major risk with trying heroin once or twice, and almost 19 percent of teens don’t see a major risk with trying heroin once a week. Keep your child informed about the dangers of heroin by learning what parents should know about heroin use, including the dangers and warning signs.

What are some signs my child is using heroin?

* Drowsiness
* Slurred speech
* Constricted pupils
* Nausea
* Euphoria
* Impaired mental functioning
* Slowed breathing
* Signs of injection, such as track marks, bumps and infected sores
* Poor hygiene
* Drug paraphernalia
* Runny nose
* Change in friends
* Withdrawal from or lack of interest in old friends, usual activities and family
* Hostility

How is heroin used?

Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. It is typically injected, but more and more teens are turning to snorting, smoking or swallowing heroin because they falsely believe this is safer than using needles.

What are the street names for heroin?

* Smack
* H
* Tar
* Chiba or Chiva
* Junk
* Brown Sugar
* Tar
* Skag
* Mud

What are some of the dangers of heroin use?

Heroin is highly addictive and enters the brain quickly, producing physical dependence. Injecting heroin poses a whole other set of risks, including HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other diseases from sharing needles. The strength of heroin also varies from dose to dose with unpredictable effects, so the user never knows what might happen with their next hit.

What are some facts and statistics on teens and heroin use?

* Almost 40 percent of teens don’t perceive any great risk in trying heroin once or twice. Almost 19 percent of teens don’t perceive any great risk in trying heroin once or twice a week. (SAMHSA, 2006)
* 14.4 percent of teens say that it would be “fairly easy” or “very easy” for them to find heroin if they wanted it. (SAMHSA, 2006)
* In 2006, 446,000 people received treatment for heroin addiction. (SAMHSA)
* Among teens that had episodes of major depression, 34.6 percent had used illicit drugs, such as heroin, during the same period. (SAMHSA)

What can I do to prevent heroin use in my teen?

* Be alert about warning signs.

* Discuss the dangers of drug use with your child. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, teens are 50 percent less likely to use drugs if they learn the risks of drug use from their parents.

* Monitor your teen’s whereabouts and get to know their friends and their friends’ parents.

* Take action if you see any signs of abuse or sense that something is wrong. Don’t wait or the abuse could turn into an addiction.

How do I choose a teen heroin rehab?

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs and can cause severe withdrawal, so it’s important to decide if assisted medical detox is necessary. When deciding on a rehab, you should focus on which types of treatment they offer, staff credentials, if they have the proper licensing, what types of aftercare programs they offer to prevent relapse. You’ll want to decide if your teen needs residential or out-patient rehab, assisted detox, or treatment for a dual diagnosis of a co-occurring disorder. Talking to a medical doctor about your teen’s symptoms can help you determine which type of treatment you should seek.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.