Opioid Addiction - Drug and Alcohol

What Are the Signs of Opioid Abuse?

Opioid abuse has a myriad of effects on the body and mind. Recognizing the signs of opioid abuse is the first step to change for a healthy future.

What Are the Signs of Opioid Abuse?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 30, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

Opioids are a highly addictive class of drugs and having a loved one or family member struggling with opioid addiction is an incredibly difficult and fragile situation.

Identifying signs of opioid abuse can provide an early warning to help someone overcome opioid addiction. Opioids affect the body in many ways, impacting one's physical and mental health, and providing signs that could indicate that someone is abusing opioids and needs help. 

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a common and diverse type of drug. While they are prescribed as pain relievers legally in the form of OxyContin, Vicodin, morphine, and many others, they also encapsulate a large number of illegal substances as well.

This is true, particularly in the case of heroin or the synthetic opioid fentanyl, which can be many times more potent than prescription opioids.

These drugs, whether natural or synthetic, prescription or illicit, are all depressants, meaning they slow the body and mind's processes. While this can lead to a relaxed feeling, it can also fundamentally affect one's natural bodily functions. This can make it difficult to carry out basic functions if one ingests too much of an opioid, resulting in body shut down, coma, or even death.

All opioids are highly addictive. Even when used as prescribed for their pain-relieving properties, they are still mind-altering substances that can result in feelings of euphoria. While illicit opioids can be exceptionally dangerous, the potent effects of prescription opioids can still result in dependence, abuse, or addiction when used improperly. It is vital to be vigilant of one's relationship with opioids even when using them under proper direction.

There is nothing easy about overcoming opioid addiction and identifying the signs and symptoms of abuse can provide the necessary information to take action as early as possible and prevent one's dependence or addiction from continuing to develop to further detrimental levels. 

Signs of Opioid Use

Opioids have recognizable effects on the body and mind. While they bring feelings of euphoria or relaxation immediately following their use, they also come with a myriad of other, more harmful effects. These can include:

  • Lethargy

  • Slurred speech

  • Drowsiness

  • Compromised motor skills

  • Slowed breathing

  • Slowed heart rate

  • Nausea

  • Slowed reaction time

Many of these symptoms result from opioids' role as depressants, working to sedate or slow the body's natural processes and cognitive function. While this can help relieve pain, it can also produce more negative effects.

In an opioid overdose, slowed breathing can lead to asphyxiation, and compromised reaction times can make it incredibly dangerous to drive or attempt other risky behaviors where an acute degree of focus is necessary. 

Long-term use can also result in a compromised emotional state, and persistent irritability, anxiety, panic, depression, and more are all possible results. Ceasing one's use of opioids as soon as possible is crucial to mitigate these symptoms. Due to the highly addictive nature of opioids, dedicated recovery programs and professionals are necessary to navigate one's recovery.

The Effects of Opioids on the Body

Opioids also have a number of destructive effects on one's body. Administering opioids via injection can leave track marks and bruises on the body, along with scabs and sores. Dilated pupils and flushed skin also signify the use of opioids. Coupled with the emotional impact of opioids, these symptoms can be incredibly difficult to overcome. 

Prescription opioids can also cause an individual to seek illicit alternatives when their prescription runs out. For some, this can mean turning to street-level drugs like heroin or fentanyl, while others may engage in self-harm to procure another prescription for the drug, compromising one's physical health to facilitate their addiction. 

The symptoms of opioid abuse can be further exacerbated by the use of other substances, including alcohol or other drugs, making professional treatment and sobriety an even more pressing need for one's future health. 

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Opioid addiction can also cause an individual to express other behavioral changes, even besides drug-seeking and using behaviors. Those abusing opioids may begin to shut themselves off from others, either as a defense mechanism or as a result of feelings of anxiety or depression.

A person addicted to opioids may isolate because of a desire to hide these mental health changes from others, or the changes may cause them to lose interest in social interaction. Becoming more physically isolated and emotionally distant as one removes themselves from important relationships can be signs of the potential abuse of opioids. 

Neglecting responsibilities around the house or becoming lax in workplace obligations and attendance can also indicate a need for change. Constantly calling out of work or an inability to maintain employment can stem from a dangerous relationship with drugs.

Other behavioral signs include becoming overly defensive in their language and behaviors or confrontational when criticized, even if the discussion is not about their use of opioids. Recovery is always possible, and convincing a loved one it's time for change is the first step toward a healthy future.

The Edge Treatment Center Provides Effective Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Opioid abuse creates a dangerous and fragile situation. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of opioid use and abuse is necessary to help you or a loved one take the first steps toward a healthy, sober life.

At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the difficulties of overcoming opioid abuse, and we are prepared to help you personalize your recovery plan to address your unique needs and goals for recovery.

For more information on how we can create a recovery plan for you, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, contact us now.

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