According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), 20.5 million Americans age 12 or older had a substance use disorder in 2015. Of them, 591,000 involved heroin. It’s predicted that of those who use heroin, 23% will develop an opioid addiction. Sometimes, heroin abuse triggers or aggravates an anxiety disorder.
Did you know that anxiety is one of the leading mental health issues in the United States? Some 40 million adults over the age of 18 are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder every year. It’s not surprising that some of these 40 million are included in the 20.5 million who use heroin.
The problem is that many people go undiagnosed. Heroin is illegal, which dramatically lowers the number of people who will tell their doctor about using it. Anxiety is one of the most undiagnosed (and curable) disorders in the world because people either don’t recognize it or are fearful of admitting to their struggle.
Whether you’re using heroin and attempting to understand why you always feel so anxious or you know someone who may be using and is acting out of sorts, you can do something powerful. You can recognize the presence of heroin abuse and an anxiety disorder, and you can enlist help.
Identifying an Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is normal. It’s the body’s way of issuing a warning. It puts you on high alert and prepares you to take action. However, chronic anxiety can be detrimental to mental and physical health. It can cause you to make snap decisions that don’t often turn out well.
Anxiety disorders can manifest differently from person to person, but the basic symptoms are similar. According to HealthLine.com, the most common include:
- Extreme and unnecessary fear of situations or things
- Frequent emotional and physical health problems
- Fear of leaving the house coupled with social withdrawal
- Changes in personality
- Compulsive or repetitive behaviors
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
- Trouble at work or in school
- Family or relationship issues
- Alcohol or drug abuse
Anxiety itself is a symptom of heroin abuse, which makes it hard to pinpoint the presence of an anxiety disorder in a heroin user. Despite the challenge, identifying a dual diagnosis is paramount to aiding an addict in quitting and recovering from their habit.
Is Heroin a Factor?
If you’re here for a friend or family member, how can you tell if heroin is a factor? Basic signs include:
- Paraphernalia: Syringes, rubber tubing, burnt spoons, small glass pipes, tiny baggies, whitish or tan powdery residue.
- Physical Symptoms: Flushed skin, runny nose, nausea, constipation, sleepy eyes, tiny pupils, lack of appetite, slow breathing, slurred speech.
Learn more about what heroin use looks like in our previous post, The Signs of Heroin Abuse and Addiction.
Where to Find Help
Your doctor is always a good place to start. If you (or your friend) are seeing a counselor, talk to them about your concerns. They can help you find the right local help.
Don’t be afraid. If heroin is involved, one of the best places to start is your local substance abuse counselor’s office. They can provide you with the resources needed to address and recover from a substance-related issue.