Opioid abuse takes on many forms, but they all come with similar warning signs.
People that abuse opioids will show signs of physical change and behavioral shifts that lead to personal and professional troubles.
In general, a person that abuses opioids may undergo periods of highs and withdrawal that impact mood and energy levels. They may also become secretive or deceptive and neglect obligations.
Physical Signs Of Opioid Use
Opioids block pain receptors and slow down the central nervous system. People that take these drugs to get high will become sedated and may talk slower than usual.
When these drugs are abused, a person may spend more energy on getting drugs than on other concerns like personal appearance.
The following physical signs of opioid abuse include effects of the drug and secondary physical effects due to addictive behaviors.
Physical effects include:
- glazed eyes
- slurred speech
- commonly having flu-like symptoms
- weight loss
- tired appearance
- poor hygiene
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Behavioral And Social Effects Of Opioid Abuse
Opioid drugs have strong effects on the body’s ability to regulate mood and behave “normally”.
Extended opioid abuse can permanently change the way a person makes decisions and interacts with their surroundings.
When opioids are being abused, the way a person behaves and interacts with others may change when they are high or feeling the effects of withdrawals.
Some behavioral signs of opioid use disorder may include:
- mood changes
- decreased libido
- financial trouble
- isolating from friends or family
- trouble with the law
- missing work or school
- being unable to control opioid use
- changes in sleep or exercise habits
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms Signal Opioid Abuse
A range of physical and behavioral issues that arise from opioid abuse are the result of opioid intoxication.
However, many signs of opioid abuse become apparent during periods of opioid withdrawal. Opioid withdrawals happen when a person becomes physically dependent on the drug.
Opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms:
- anxiety and irritability
- vomiting and diarrhea
- tremors and shivering
- drug cravings
- abdominal pain
Getting Help For Opioid Abuse Or Drug Addiction
Opioid abuse is destructive. If you or a loved one are addicted to opioids, it is possible to stop. Inpatient treatment can include medically assisted treatment to ease withdrawals and prevent relapse.
Behavioral therapies in both inpatient and outpatient settings can help people better address cravings and live without substance use.
Talk to one of our treatment specialists to learn more about the range of treatment options for every unique situation.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention –– Opioid Overdose
- Johns Hopkins Medicine –– Opioid Addiction
- Mayo Clinic –– How to tell if a loved one is abusing opioids