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How to Help Someone Who is Addicted to Heroin

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how to help someone who is addicted to heroin

Addiction affects millions of people in the United States, but only a small percentage of people get the treatment they need to overcome it. Addiction treatment offers the best chance at managing the short and long-term effects of addiction by enabling people to live life without substances. For people who are addicted to heroin, treatment is crucial in withdrawing safely from the drug and learning how to avoid relapse in the future. It is also essential to prevent the very real risk of overdosing.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is snorted, injected, or smoked. People who use heroin recreationally can very quickly develop dependence or addiction. Withdrawal from heroin can be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.

If you or someone you love are struggling with heroin abuse, you do not have to manage it alone. You must receive comprehensive, effective treatment immediately to avoid long-term damage to your physical, mental, and social health. Recognizing the signs of addiction is the first step towards getting help for someone who is addicted to heroin.

How to Recognize Heroin Addiction

If you have concerns about a loved one and think they may be using heroin, there are some behaviors and symptoms you can look out for. If they inject heroin, you may see marks or scarring on their arms or other parts of the body. People who smoke heroin may have breathing problems. Snorting heroin can result in frequent nosebleeds.

After someone ingests heroin, they may experience euphoria, nausea, poor concentration, or clumsiness. They may have constricted (small) pupils, feel itchy, or may appear sleepy or nod off. Someone who has been using heroin regularly for even a short time is at risk for addiction. Some signs of addiction include:

  • Using more of the drug than they intended to
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the drug
  • Decreased interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Risky behavior while intoxicated
  • Increased tolerance
  • Unable to cut back or stop using on their own
  • Withdrawal symptoms if they reduce their use

Recognizing any of these behaviors might be a sign that your loved one is living with addiction. They may require addiction treatment to avoid the devastating consequences of their heroin abuse.

Treatment For Heroin Addiction

Medical detox is the first step in treating heroin addiction. Having medical supervision and care during the withdrawal period is important for several reasons. Supervised heroin detox allows the person to get treatment for their uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. It lets people focus solely on their detox without needing to engage in the activities of daily life. It also gives people the best chance at a complete withdrawal by letting them have a sustained period away from people or situations that could lead to a relapse. The cravings for heroin are very strong during withdrawal, and most people need supervision to keep them from returning to substance abuse during this time.

After detox, people need comprehensive addiction treatment. In rehab, people get continued medical care, participate in group and individual therapy, and receive the education they need to live life without returning to substance abuse. Holistic therapies can also be used alongside their evidence-based treatments to give them more tools to manage life in recovery.

Aftercare is an important element in treating heroin addiction. Cravings may remain after the treatment program is complete. People often need ongoing support to stay sober for life. However, it can be difficult to convince someone who is addicted to heroin to get the help they need.

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Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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Planning an Intervention for Someone Addicted to Heroin

Many people who are concerned about a loved one’s addiction stage an intervention to get them to go to treatment. An intervention is a planned event designed to show support and offers concrete solutions to someone who is struggling with substance abuse. If you need to help someone who is hooked on heroin, an intervention may be an option for you.


Staging a successful intervention takes careful planning. Many people find that hiring a trained interventionist can be essential to an effective event. Determine the date, time, and location of the intervention. Carefully choose who will attend the event. It is important to include only the person’s close family members and friends. You must also exclude people who are struggling with their own addiction to ensure the focus stays on your loved one. Plan on who will speak and what the order of events will be. Practice your parts ahead of time so that the intervention can flow smoothly.


Part of an intervention involves offering treatment options that are immediately available to your loved one. Prepare to offer this by researching addiction treatment centers that offer the care your loved one needs. Be thoughtful about their personality, lifestyle, and medical or mental health needs. You will also need to be prepared to enact consequences if your loved one refuses to enter treatment.

An intervention can be an emotional and stressful event, so it helps to prepare yourself, too. There is no guarantee your loved one will accept your help or even want to hear what you have to say. Being mentally prepared for this can help reduce the stress if it happens. You may also want to prepare for another intervention if the first one fails.


Once the intervention is underway, you will have a sense of if your loved one is willing to accept the help you are offering. If they accept help and decide to enter treatment, you must commit to helping them get into the program as quickly as possible. If they refuse to go to treatment, you must commit to carrying out the consequences you decided on when planning the intervention.

Lastly, stay committed to your loved ones by being open to helping them get into treatment in the future. Even if your intervention fails, your loved one will know that you are willing to help them if they change their mind in the future.

Find Help For a Loved One Who is Addicted to Heroin

If you or someone you love require comprehensive, compassionate substance abuse treatment, reach out to our staff at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment. We offer a range of programs designed to give you the care and skills you need to live a full, self-directed life without using substances. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery journey, give us a call today.

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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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