Signs of Opioid Addiction

Written by Chloe Nicosia

These are the Signs of Opioid Addiction

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes opiates, which are derived from the opium plant, and their synthetic and semi-synthetic analogues. Examples of opiates include morphine, codeine, and heroin. Among the synthetic opioids are methadone and fentanyl. When prescribed by a doctor for pain relief, opioids are generally safe. In addition to relieving pain, they may also induce a feeling of euphoria, which makes them a target for abuse, dependence, and addiction. The aim of this article is to inform the reader of the signs of opioid addiction, the signs of opioid use in adults, and the signs of opioid withdrawal

Signs of Opioid Use in Adults

When mild opioids are used in low doses as prescribed for pain, it is almost impossible to detect signs of opioid use in adults under these conditions. They might be in good spirits, but that could be simply a result of not being in pain. They might also complain about being constipated, but that’s about it.

Opioid misuse is another matter. In adults, these signs and symptoms include:

  • Analgesia (absence of pain)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Euphoria
  • Contracted pupils
  • Respiratory depression (slow, shallow breathing)
  • Nausea
  • Itching, flushed skin
  • Constipation

Note that these are all mainly physiological signs and symptoms. Behavioral changes have not yet kicked in.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

Over time, users become habituated to the drug and it takes increasingly higher doses to achieve the same ‘high.’ People’s behavior changes to accommodate their habit. Physical signs of opioid addiction, specifically heroin, include those listed above for opioid use, as well as:

  • Declined mental function
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Stomach cramping
  • Heart infections
  • Abscesses
  • Nodding in and out of consciousness
  • Collapsed veins
  • A heavy feeling in the extremities

Increasing use, abuse, and addiction to opioids such as heroin leads to behavioral changes. Addicts may leave stuff around, such as small plastic bags, rolled up dollar bills, straws, foil, needles, spoons, bottle caps, nasal spray bottles, razor blades, and tiny orange needle caps.

You may also notice stuff going missing, like money or valuables. If you spot these signs of opioid use in adults or signs of opioid addiction, don’t let them go unnoticed. Before confronting the person you think is using or addicted, it is a good idea to seek professional help for advice on how to handle the situation.

Having read the above list of paraphernalia and missing items, you have probably inferred at least some of the behavioral signs of opioid addiction. Among these are:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Lying about drug use
  • Becoming disinterested in hobbies they once enjoyed
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, such as promiscuous sex
  • Spending excessive amounts of time seeking, using, and recovering from using drugs.

Signs of Opioid Withdrawal

When someone has been taking opioids in the long term, especially if they have been steadily increasing their dosage, it is dangerous, potentially life-threatening, to stop taking it suddenly. Signs of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intractable anxiety
  • Aching muscles and allover physical discomfort
  • Sleeplessness

In extreme cases, opioid withdrawal can lead to seizures, stroke and heart attack. While discontinuing opioids that are no longer therapeutic is a positive step, it is a really bad idea to attempt it without medical supervision and intervention. Professional care in a qualified drug rehab facility can help those going through detox manage pain and side effects under medical supervision.

Let Better Addiction Care help you find the care you or your loved one needs. Call us today to speak with one of our addiction specialists at 1.800.429.7690.