More than 2 million Americans abuse opioid pain medication and nearly 90 people die daily from an opioid overdose. Misuse of pain medication in the U.S. is second only to marijuana use. Opioids make your brain and body think you need them for survival. They are very powerful in their addictive properties because they directly affect the brain’s pleasure center. Eventually, opioid patients tolerate the amount they are prescribed. Then they find themselves needing higher doses to control pain or feel their euphoric effect. This pattern of behavior eventually leads to a dependence that can quickly spin out of control.

Opioid abuse is most often done in secret. Addicts hide their addiction from friends and loved ones out of fear of rejection or judgement. There are ways to tell if someone around you is addicted to opioids, even if they try to hide it. Changes in behavior, mood and time management can be warning signs that your friend or loved one is addicted to opioids.

Warning Signs

There are many warning signs that signal an opioid addiction. Obvious changes like poor personal hygiene, sleeping long or odd hours, and quickly changing moods are easier to spot than others. Habits that might develop over a longer period of time include:

  • Isolation – Addicts can seek to be alone when using. They fear rejection or judgement of others, so they want to be alone to get high. Isolation is dangerous because it can make addiction worse and be harmful to recovery. 
  • Spending time with new “friends” – Addictions can cause new and unhealthy connections and friendships. A warning signs is the addict spending time with new friends, leaving old ones, or mixing with new groups of people that seems out of character.
  • Loss of interest in activities – Addiction causes a lack of involvement in previously enjoyed activities. Since opioids trigger the pleasure centers of the brain, usual activities can take a backseat to using drugs.
  • Manipulation – Addicts use friends or family to get what they want. Manipulation takes many different forms,  but the results are always the same. The addict does what is necessary to get the drug they want. It is the most destructive behavior when it comes to damaging relationships. 
  • Depression – Opioids can cause extreme changes in mood and emotion. Addicts may develop signs of depression because of chemical changes in the brain caused by opioid medication. Depression can be serious if overlooked and untreated.

Physical Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Other immediate warning sings of opioid use and addiction to be aware of include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety/panic attacks
  • Euphoria or feeling high
  • Pupil constriction/dilation
  • Poor memory/repeating themselves
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor decision making
  • Slurred speech
  • Abandoning responsibilities
  • Poor coordination

Warning signs of overdose need immediate action. Call 911 immediately If your friend or loved one is experiencing an opioid overdose. Naloxone can stop an opioid overdose if given soon after overdose.

Next Steps

Addiction is sometimes hard to spot. Most addicts go to great lengths to hide it from the ones they are close to. Help is available if you have a loved one or friend you suspect is addicted to opioid medication. Rock Recovery Center in West Palm Beach, Florida can help with next steps. Call our 24-hour helpline or chat live with us now.