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Teen Heroin Abuse: Statistics, Signs and Treatment


teen abusing heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive, illegal, rapidly acting opiate that is synthesized from morphine. Morphine is derived from the seeds of the opium plant, poppy. As such, any drug that is derived from opium poppy plants are classified as opiates. There is an abundance of mental effects that can occur because of heroin abuse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse assert that habitual use of heroin can lead to both short and long term changes in one’s brain. Below are a few statistics and facts directly related to teenage heroin abuse in America:

Due to its highly addictive qualities, any person that uses heroin repeatedly, regardless of any predisposed potential for developing a drug addiction (e.g., family history of addiction, exposure to drugs at a young age, mental health disorder, etc.) is at risk for developing a physical and psychological addiction to heroin.

Signs and Symptoms

Heroin can be abused in different ways such as intravenously (injected), inhaled (snorted), and/ or smoked. The method of ingestions does not affect the speed at which heroin crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is important to note that every teen is different and may exhibit a slightly unique set of signs and symptoms when it comes to heroin abuse. Common examples of signs and symptoms a teen may exhibit that could be indicative of heroin abuse could include any combination of the following, provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Euphoria
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations 
  • Agitation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory infections
  • Anxiety
  • Severe mood swings
  • Weight loss
  • Diminished personal hygiene practices
  • Increased sleep
  • Decreased motivation
  • Slurred speech
  • Dry mouth
  • Constricted pupils 

The long-term and short-term consequences from heroin addiction can be extremely severe. If left untreated, a teenager abusing heroin exponentially increases his or her risk of life-threatening overdose. 


The first step to overcoming heroin abuse is to go through a detox process. The detox process is an acute removal of foreign and abused substances from one’s body. Though there are several variations as to how to undergo a detox process, it is best for a teenager struggling with heroin abuse to undergo a medically supervised detox program. Attending a medically supervised detox program can help to assure a teenager’s safety as well as mitigate some of the discomforts that are associated with detoxing from heroin. After detox, a young person should continue the recovery process by participating in some form of substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. At Pacific Teen Treatment offer a residential treatment program where we create nuanced and personalized treatment plans for each of our clients. Every young person is different, with unique life experience and varied struggles, which is why we find that it is essential to cater to each teen individually. We work to help heal the whole individual and provide a foundation from which continued recovery can occur. 

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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