my teenager is doing heroin what should i do

My Teenager is Doing Heroin: What Should I Do?

If you’re a parent in the scary situation where you’ve asked yourself, “my teenager is doing heroin, what should I do?”, then this article will provide you with resources to deal with this concerning issue.
Opioids like heroin are causing the death of thousands of teenagers worldwide. This extremely addictive drug has ruined many lives, but why exactly is this white powder such a threat to the future of our youth?

Teenage Drug addiction is prevalent in the modern world, especially in urbanized states. Their high accessibility means that it’s not surprising to see that many of them do drugs at an early age. Some try heroin to fit in, feel good, self-treat diseases, “enhance” their performance in school or work, or just experiment. Any of these reasons might lead them to addiction.

According to experts, many adolescents today try party drugs for the first time due to peer pressure. However, as their body develops an addiction, they’ll seek another substance that produces the same or more intense effect than the first drug they used. As a result, some of them develop a chemical dependency on drugs that lasts through adulthood.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about heroin and teen drug abuse facts so that you can recognize the signs, identify the risk factors, and know the best course of action to take before it gets too late for your child.

How Do I Know if My Teen is Using Heroin?

Most people try heroin for the “high” feeling they get. They might do it out of curiosity at first, but once they have tried it, they will do it for the euphoria and the relaxation that the drug provides. If you have found heroin in your household, it’s very likely that your teen has already started using it.
Drug use is noticeable because of the significant changes to appearance, relationships, and physical and mental health. Those who do drugs tend to change as a person because it physically and psychologically deteriorates them.
It can be challenging to identify if your teens are using heroin or not. Being extra observant is a good start. Going to the doctor or an expert might also help determine drug use in the family. In the meantime, keep a close eye on the following signs, symptoms, and effects:


  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Irregular breathing.
  • Severe sleepiness.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Constricted pupils.
  • Incoherent speech.
  • Change in appearance.
  • Nausea symptoms such as vomiting.
  • Body pains.
  • Constipation.


  • Depression and other types of anxiety disorders.
  • Irritability.
  • Severe mood swings.
  • Loss of motivation on their usual tasks.
  • Secretive and deceptive behavior.
  • Fraudulently obtaining money from others.
  • Anti-social behavior.
  • Short attention span.
  • No focus on personal hygiene.
  • Hostile behavior.

Health Consequences

  • Pulmonary infections.
  • Stomach cramping.
  • Several lung complications.
  • Increased risk of Hepatitis or HIV.
  • Increased risk of drug overdose.
  • Damage to the brain and heart, resulting in severe health disorders.
  • Damaged veins.
  • Sexual dysfunction in males and infertility in females.
If you notice any of these signs on your teen, they might be using drugs. However, do not make assumptions, since mistakenly accusing your teen of drug use might hurt their feelings or ruin your relationship. Be open and talk with them in a loving manner.

What Are The Negative Consequences of Teen Heroin Use?

As time passes by, the risk of overdose due to using heroin increases. If your child is buying heroin, they are likely getting it from the streets, from dangerous drug dealers — often gang members — who prey on teenagers.
Drug dealers will not tell your kid what drug they are buying exactly. Fentanyl, which is 20 to 100 times stronger than heroin, is now rampant in the streets. People are buying and using it unknowingly, and it has already caused thousands of teen deaths due to overdose. In 2018, the National Institute on Drug Abuse had recorded a total of 46,802 deaths due to opioid-related drug overdoses.
Aside from this particular risk, people who use heroin in the long term will most likely suffer illnesses in their cardiovascular, nervous, digestive, and respiratory systems. The brain is one of the most vulnerable organs affected by illegal substances. Shrinking brain cells might lead to poor memory, and cause behavioral and emotional changes. This is why you might think that your teen is different from the person they used to be.
The most common way to use heroin is by smoking it using a lighter, spoon, and tinfoil. This is called “chasing the dragon” because the user is “chasing” the smoke with a tube, inhaling it. Injecting heroin with a needle is another method for using heroin. This causes damaged veins and arteries, resulting in the uneven flow of blood to and from the heart and other parts of the body. The consequences can range from infection to loss of life.
Heroin can also pose a considerable threat to the digestive system. The substance slows digestion, resulting in frequent constipation and bloating of the stomach, making the user feel very sick.

Heroin Properties and its Relation to Other Drugs

Color, Taste, Smells, and Names
Heroin is an extremely addictive opioid drug made from morphine, a mind-altering substance obtained from the seedpod of the opium poppy plants. They commonly grow in many parts of Asia, Colombia, and Mexico.  Heroin products differ in appearance due to the various methods and equipment used when making them. According to experts, heroin usually comes in three colors: white, brown, or black. When it’s a sticky substance, it is known as black tar heroin. The majority of heroin is bitter, but since illegal dealers mix it with sweet additives, it can taste sweet. Furthermore, heroin can smell either bad or good. Many people compare its smell to cat urine, but other heroin variants smell like chocolate, sugar, coffee, or licorice. Some nicknames for heroin are smack, horse, Caballo, 8-ball, junk, and TNT.
Opioid and Heroin

Heroin use has increased significantly in the last decade, along with the rising abuse of prescription opioid pain relievers. Many people who get addicted to OxyContin and Vicodin switch to heroin since it produces the same “high” feeling, but it is easier and cheaper to find.

Heroin, like many other addictive substances, is not purely natural. Illegal drugmakers tend to mix it with various chemicals for preservation and better look and taste.

How It’s Taken
Many people think that there are ways to take heroin that will not lead to addiction. This statement is false. The substance itself is highly addictive, no matter how it is consumed. People should always verify the information they receive before spreading it to a larger audience. Notably, misinformation is one of the leading causes of teenage addiction, as young people tend to think that it is okay to play and experiment with illegal drugs.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, new users prefer smoking and snorting illegal substances, since they are afraid of injecting drugs into their bodies. The first two methods tend to produce a lower rate of addiction than injection. The latter leads to a quicker build-up of drug tolerance, making the user more prone to severe addiction. The injection method is preferred by people who are heavily dependent on drugs. People who inject heroin instantly feel a surge of euphoria, heaviness of extremities, and intense skin flushing. On the other hand, those who prefer smoking and snorting may not experience that same potent rush.

The Role of Family in Prevention and Recovery

Substance addiction might ruin a family in a multitude of ways. It shatters family dynamics, deters proper communication, and destroys bonds. If anyone in the house uses illicit substances, the entire family is tested emotionally and physically. The hardest initial step is identifying the root causes of the addiction and communicating how to address the issue together.
Family members who first see drug paraphernalia, such as syringes and burnt spoons, will often be shocked and frightened by the situation. However, these feelings will pass. Consider that your child’s situation is worse, and be supportive of their battle against addiction.
Despite the shock, frustration, and sadness that other family members might feel, they are the ones who will have to stay strong for the user. It is important to be involved in the whole recovery process.

Luckily, teen drug rehab facilities in Los Angeles, like Key Healthcare, believe that family bonding is key during a patient’s treatment. We have helped hundreds of struggling teenagers over the years and offer an Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program in Los Angeles (Teen IOP) that comprises structured individualized, group, and family therapy sessions throughout the day. This program is specifically made for teens in Los Angeles who are 14-17 years old and are suffering from drug addiction and drug abuse. Also, engaging in a teen rehab aftercare program ensures that the progress achieved during the intensive treatment phases is maintained and supported in the long term, allowing teens to smoothly transition back into their daily lives while maintaining their sobriety and well-being. 

We always remind people that, despite the challenges that a family might be facing, they can be mended with the help of licensed therapists and other trustworthy medical experts.

Dealing with your own feelings and emotions as a parent

As a parent, you will have a chaotic mix of feelings once you learn about your teen’s condition. You will get lost in your emotions, have negative thoughts, or even get nightmares and insomnia. However, as a pillar of the family, you have to remain calm, collected, and functioning. You cannot let the problem get into your head. That said, it’s perfectly normal to have doubts about your parenting methods when your adolescent is using drugs. All you can do from here is learn, and help your teenager by being a good parent who shows continuous love and support. You can dictate where your family is going and initiate the recovery process for your teen. Joining your teen’s therapy and talking to experts before the actual start of the treatment will certainly help.

What Should I Do Next?

The effects of heroin addiction can be mild to severe depending on the patient’s health, the amount consumed and the length of time they’ve been using it. You will never know how close your teen is to an overdose or how long their body can cope with the effects. Letting the situation continue will only lead to more serious complications in the future. Addiction may result in irreparable lifelong problems.
If you’ve reached this point, then it’s likely that your teen has a problem and needs immediate help. Aside from the support of their family, a teen needs medical and emotional assistance from health experts and certified rehab facilities. Why? Because addiction is a disease that needs proper treatment. Like with any other illness, some programs and medications can decrease the severity of its symptoms.

Teens Rarely Seek Help on Their Own

It’s important to know that teens addicted to heroin rarely seek treatment on their own. Family members, especially the parents, must take the first step. You should discuss this issue with your child because it has to be addressed immediately.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your teen about the adverse effects of drugs, as well as your plans to send them to a rehab facility in Los Angeles:
  • Prepare: Parents are generally shocked after learning about their child’s addiction. It is a natural response since you only want what’s best for your child. However, you should not be impulsive when confronting your teen. This might only lead to misunderstandings or aggressiveness. Be emotionally and rationally prepared. Inform yourself about heroin, its side effects, and possible treatments. You want to avoid talking to your child without knowing what the next step is. Have concrete ideas on how you can give your teen the best treatments available in your area.
  • Stay Calm and Collected: Talk to your child in a comfortable environment, and make sure to stay calm and relaxed. Don’t speak too intensely, or they might feel pressured or judged. Be open-minded with their opinions. You want to learn their side of the story and how they got to that point. Try to know where it all began and determine the factors that lead your teen to use drugs. It is vital to put yourself in their shoes and see where they are coming from.
  • Convey Your Love and Concern: While this should be a 2-way conversation, getting your teen to open up might be tricky. Ideally, your child will tell you about their experiences with heroin, since their reasons for using might be different from your assumptions. Show them that you are willing to support them in their battle against addiction. You can even ask about the things that bother them, and what you can do to help change that. Many drug-addicted teens are ashamed of what they’ve done and they refuse treatment, so you have to be very patient and supportive. 

Do Not Delay: Seek Help!

Drug addiction physically and psychologically deteriorates the users. Many drug addiction cases lead to accidents, overdoses, and even suicides, which unfortunately include thousands of young victims. If you suspect that your teen is doing heroin, then please do not delay any longer.

According to America’s Health Ranking, there were 1.4 million suicide attempts in 2018 all over the United States, and 48,000 of them led to death. That is twice the number of homicides recorded in that year. Mental health disorders usually come with drug addiction. Both should be simultaneously treated to ensure a full recovery.

Sometimes it is possible that your teen might be suffering from mental illness that’s the reason they might have started taking drugs so that they can be free from their thoughts so we can also help your child in fighting their mental problems. You can contact us today for the best mental health treatment for teens.

Different Los Angeles Teen Heroin Treatment Options

After talking to a professional about your teen’s condition, consider the following teen heroin treatment options.
  • Teen PHP for Heroin
    PHP for teens is an intensive treatment program that operates for 8 hours a day, 5 days each week. Compared to other programs that require patients to sleep on the premises, the for heroin addiction will let them go home after the 8-hour sessions.
  • Teen Heroin Treatment Program
    If your teen has severe addiction issues, a teen heroin treatment program is one of the best solutions for teen drug addiction, especially short-term. It aims to quickly get rid of the opioid chemicals from the patient’s body.
  • Teen IOP
    Key Healthcare in Los Angeles offers an adolescent intensive outpatient program for teens struggling with opiates and heroin. This program helps children deal with their addiction while they continue their daily life activities, such as studying, socializing, and being at home.
  • Mentoring
    Even after a specific series of treatments, there’s the chance that a patient might relapse. This option aims to provide additional support to patients after their completed treatment by pairing them with a mentor for teens to help them overcome life’s challenges in a healthy way. If you are located in California, you can talk to us today to ensure the continued sobriety of your teen.

Initiate Change Inside the Family

There is hope, even if the future seems bleak. We know that you value your family dearly, and protecting them from major issues like heroin addiction is why you’re here. Heroin has succeeded in destroying many families. Don’t let it destroy yours.

If you are seeking professional help in Los Angeles, California, then an teen opioid addiction treatment might be the best solution. Contact us to speak confidentially with a teen drug addiction expert for free.