Signs of Opioid Abuse and Addiction

signs of opioid abuse and addiction

Opioids are some of the most widely abused drugs in the United States. Over 16 million people worldwide and more than 2.1 million in the U.S. have an opioid use disorder.[1]

Opioids are also a leading cause of drug overdose death. Of the 100,000 drug overdose deaths annually, approximately 75% of them involve prescription, illicit, or synthetic opioids.[2]

If someone you love is abusing opioids, it is vital that they get help as soon as possible. Opioid abuse and addiction are dangerous and deadly, but they are treatable with a detox and recovery program.

Unfortunately, since most people who struggle with opioid abuse start by abusing prescriptions given to them by a doctor, it isn’t always easy to spot an addiction to opioids until they have caused substantial harm. Being aware of the common signs of opioid abuse and addiction can help you identify a drug abuse problem early on, and get people who are struggling the help that they need.

Side Effects of Opioids

Opioids are central nervous system depressants that provide pain relief. In addition to reducing pain, they also slow down certain body systems such as respiration and heart rate.

People who abuse opioids may be more susceptible to their side effects. Common side effects of opioids include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Euphoria
  • Slowed breathing
  • Confusion
  • Flushed face
  • Itchy skin
  • Constricted pupils

Long-term opioid abuse can have devastating and permanent effects on the mind and body. Common long-term side effects of opioid abuse include:

  • Liver disease
  • Infection of the heart valves
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory infections
  • Cardiac dysrhythmias
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction

Common Signs of Opioid Abuse

Opioid abuse is defined as using an illicit opioid in any way or taking a prescription opioid in a way that is not advised. Examples of opioid abuse include taking twice the dose that is prescribed to you, crushing and snorting a pill that should be swallowed, or injecting an illicit opioid like heroin.

People who are abusing opioids may exhibit behavioral, physical, and emotional changes, such as:

  • Taking opioids “just in case” even when there is no pain or reason to take them
  • Visiting multiple doctors, sometimes across state lines, in an attempt to get more than one prescription or get an early refill
  • Appearing stressed out or anxious if their prescription is running out
  • Engaging in poor decision making
  • Sleeping more than usual or not being able to sleep without opioids
  • Excessive mood swings
  • “Nodding off” or going back and forth between states of consciousness and semi-consciousness
  • Developing a tolerance to opioids and having to take higher and higher doses to achieve the same effects as before
  • Taking prescription opioids from loved one’s medicine cabinets

Left untreated, opioid abuse can progress into full-blown opioid addiction.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

People who are addicted to opioids may display the “three C’s” which are:

  1. Loss of control – the inability to control how often and how much opioids you use.
  2. Cravings or preoccupation with opioid use – experiencing recurring thoughts about using or urges to get high despite being concerned about your opioid use.
  3. Continuing to use opioids despite negative consequences – people who are addicted to opioids will continue using them even if they are causing problems at work, school, or home.

The longer a person abuses opioids, the more important their drugs will become in their life, causing everything else to come second. Someone struggling with opioid addiction may isolate themselves from loved ones, lie about their behaviors and whereabouts, make excuses, or place blame on others.

Other common signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Getting sick with withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking opioids or their supply runs out
  • Making multiple failed attempts to moderate or stop opioid use
  • Feeling as though one cannot function without opioids
  • Getting angry and defensive when confronted with the topic of their opioid abuse
  • Continuing to use opioids despite the negative effects they may be having on one’s physical and/or mental health

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, please contact Moving Mountains Recovery today. The sooner you get help, the easier it is to recover.

Find Help for Opioid Abuse and Addiction Today

At Moving Mountains Recovery, we understand how serious opioid abuse and addiction are. We are passionate about helping people find freedom from their addiction and rebuild their lives on a strong foundation of recovery. We have a team of motivated and compassionate professionals that are dedicated to helping people recover. We are ready to answer any questions about opioid addiction and help where we can.

By working closely with New Jersey opioid detox centers, we can help you detox in a supportive environment and begin your recovery safely. Then, once you transition to one of our outpatient addiction treatment programs, we’ll help you discover the root cause of your addiction and embrace a sober lifestyle. Don’t wait any longer to get started. Call now to speak with a dedicated admissions counselor.


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