Signs of addiction: The spiral down

If the signs seem to be there, you might want to take a second look and explore the possibility that your loved one has a drug problem – possibly an opiate addiction.

Statistics, statewide and across the country, now show that heroin addiction is on the rise. Like many people, Teri Boggs of Newton Falls never expect her child to “fall into the addiction trap.”

“It’s like a tornado. It comes in, often when you don’t expect it, picks you up, spins you around and spits you back out and you’re left with all of this rubble, this debris. But unlike a tornado, it doesn’t come and go. It comes in, but stays. It’s long lasting. It sucks things up and you’re spinning around and it spits you out.”

Boggs explained that initially, she didn’t spot any of the signs that her son had a problem because the downward spiral started slowly, picked up some pace and ultimately resulted in a prison sentence.

“He was always a very shy, quiet kid from the time he was little. But he still continued playing sports and his grades were OK,” she said. “In the beginning it was more subtle.”

But there came the time when something was “off” and his grades started slipping. His demeanor was changing, his eyes were drooping and he started nodding off more frequently while sitting in the living room.

Boggs, who speaks frequently at civic groups and organizations about the addiction cycle, said her son swore to her he never shot up, but that he “only” snorted the cocaine – making it harder to detect.

But when she looked back she could see some indications: metal clamps cut in half that he used to shave his heroin or pills, for example.

Boggs asked that her son’s name not be published. Her family’s story is comparable to those of other families. She believes the nightmare started when her son, now 21, took his first marijuana hit in his early teens. He progressed to opiates such as OxyContin and Opana. She said she believes he moved on to heroin because it was cheap and accessible. As his habit worsened, so did his need for money to support it. He started stealing, a crime that landed him a four-year prison sentence.

“It’s a common scenario when it comes to addiction and the spiral into heroin addiction,” explained Edward Dyer, program director for Community Solutions in Warren.

Dyer advises loved ones to watch for several signs or indications of heroin addiction.

For some people, it means wearing a long-sleeved shirt in 90 degree weather to hide their needle marks, he explained.

That’s an obvious one,” he added.

Others signs include:

– Unusual sleep patterns/being abnormally tired

-Spending less time at home or with family


-Hanging with a new group of people or friends

-Behavior or pattern changes

-More frequent requests for money

-Missing money or valuables

-Mood instability

-Secretive behavior, which can be difficult to detect as teens are often more secretive with their parents

-For students, slipping grades; for adults, frequent absences from work or job loss

“When you’re dealing with someone who is injecting heroin into their arms there’s really no other way to hide it other than covering them up, wearing long sleeves,” Dyer said.

“But other indications of heroin use might not be so apparent and can be a lot harder to detect. Like when they inject between their toes so you don’t see any marks on their arms. You really have to be aware and know what you’re looking for and know the person. Pay attention. Look at how they’ve changed,” Dyer explained.