One of the stars of TV’s Gogglebox has spoken publicly about his brother’s death from a heroin overdose.

Hairdresser Stephen Webb, who became famous watching television on the Channel 4 show, revealed that his brother Paul died 12 years ago as a result of drug abuse in his new book, We Need To Talk, co-written with his Gogglebox co-star Chris Steed.

The 44-year-old said his brother started smoking cannabis at the age of 10 before turning to heroin in his mid-twenties. He then died at the age of 32 from a fatal overdose.

Stephen said: “The coroner said that there was such a huge amount of heroin in his system that she didn’t think he’d done it by mistake. He’d been taking heroin for many years and he would have known that amount would be fatal.”

Five warning signs to look out for

Heroin addicts will often try to hide their habit from loved ones. If you suspect someone you know may be abusing the drug, here are some are the key warning signs:

  1. Look for items linked to drug use

If someone you love is using heroin, they will have the paraphernalia associated with the drug in their home or amongst their belongings. Look out for syringes accompanied by a spoon, a lighter or candle, and some sort of filter like a cotton bud or cigarette filter. There may also be some sort of cord or belt which addicts tie around their arms to make it easier to find a vein to inject the drug into. Other items to watch out for include small plastic bags and balloons, which are tied but not inflated.

  1. Pay attention to their appearance

When someone has taken heroin, there are a number of visible symptoms. These include small pupils and a lack of personal hygiene and care in appearance. Users may also seem disorientated, have lost a large amount of weight and have shallow breathing.

  1. Watch out for different behaviour

If someone you care about used to be active and bursting with energy and now seems constantly tired, it is possible they may be taking heroin. Users of the drug will be much sleepier than other people and very lethargic. Their speech may also be slurred and they may seem confused and less alert than they used to be. Other signs to look out for include mood swings, depression, loss of appetite and anxious behaviour.

  1. Notice marks from needles

If someone is injecting heroin regularly, they will have visible needle marks, bruises and scars. You are most likely to find these on their hands and arms but can be in other areas like the ankles, neck or even inbetween their toes.

  1. Question changes in circumstance

If someone loses their job, starts getting into trouble with the police or is having financial problems, this could be a sign they are using heroin. Look out for items disappearing from their home – for example they may sell their television, computer or jewellery to pay for the drug. They may keep asking to borrow money without it being clear what they need it for.

One way of finding out for certain whether someone you love is using heroin or another illegal substance is with a drug test. AlphaBiolabs sells discreet testing kits which can be ordered online.

As well as a urine test which provides results within minutes, we can analyse hair samples to give you a clear picture of their drug use over a period of months.