5 Warning Signs of Opioid Dependence


Opioids are a serious epidemic in the United States, a true national health crisis. Whether users have become addicted to prescription drugs or illegal street drugs like heroin, which is often easier to get, helping them get control of their addiction is a real challenge. Some people simply need therapy, while others need help from drugs like discount Suboxone. However, due to the many health hazards of opioid addiction it is important that affected individuals seek some form of professional help for their dependence.

While you might suspect someone you love has an addiction, proving it can be quite another matter. There are warning signs, real changes that you can look for to determine if your loved one is having an issue before you confront them. Here are 5 warning signs of opioid dependence.


Behavioral Changes

While there can be a number of explanations for changes in behavior, there are signs to look for that definitely point to a substance abuse issue. While one change in behavior alone may not be enough to raise suspicions, several combined can make things seem really off. Keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Abandoning hobbies or sports they previously loved.
  • Acting suspiciously or secretively, as if they have something to hide.
  • Neglecting home, school, or work responsibilities.
  • Lack of concern for personal appearance and hygiene.

These behaviors can be especially telling if they are out of character. Someone who usually is very careful about their appearance but is suddenly sloppy or someone who is very open suddenly sneaking around should be a warning sign that something serious is wrong.


Physical Changes

Opioids not only affect behaviors, they affect a person’s physical body as well, and there are warning signs you can look for physically that will help you determine if someone has an issue that needs to be addressed. Look for these tell-tale physical warning signs.

  • Acting clumsy or uncoordinated
  • Slurred Speech
  • Abnormal increase or decrease in appetite
  • Chronic flu like symptoms like a runny nose or bloodshot eyes
  • Unusually large or small pupils
  • Appearing to be spaced out, or out of touch with surroundings
  • Unusual breath, body, or clothing odors

These physical changes often indicate a substance abuse problem, but the truth of the matter is that none of them are normal, and even if the person exhibiting them is not engaged in substance abuse. they may have other physical issues that need to be addressed. It never hurts to ask questions.

You can phrase these things carefully and tactfully. “Have you noticed lately…” or “I noticed [behavior] and I am concerned about you. Are you okay?” Be kind and gentle in your approach, at least at first, and you will be more likely to get the information you are after.


Psychological and Emotional Changes

In addition to behaviors and emotional changes, opioid addiction will result in some psychological changes as well. These are also some clear warning signs that you should pay attention to, especially when they come in combination with other changes as well.

  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Bouts of manic energy
  • Mood Swings
  • Paranoia or fear for no reason
  • Disruptions in sleep patterns, like too little or too much sleep
  • Other unsettling personality changes

A certain amount of mental instability combined with physical, emotional and behavioral changes typically indicate a life disruption of some sort, but these changes are ones often associated with opioid addiction or other substance abuse.


New Friend Groups

There is another tell-tale sign of opioid abuse, and that is the abandonment of established friend groups in exchange for new and often less healthy ones. Addicts tend to be drawn to other addicts, or at least those people who will ignore or validate their habit.

They also tend to avoid those who would notice behavior changes and act on them. Addicts tend to focus on their drug of choice, and even understand they are not doing what is best for those around them or themselves. This avoidance is a form of denial, and often they will shy away when those old, trusted friends pursue them to determine what is going on.


The Need for Money

Finally, one of the clear signs that someone is suffering from opioid addiction is the need for money. No matter how they are obtaining the drugs they need, whether prescription or otherwise, opioids are expensive. In fact, many addicts will turn to heroin or other illegal drugs because they are easier to obtain than well-regulated narcotics and end up costing less.

No matter what, drugs are expensive, and addicts tend to need more as time passes rather than less. As their need for the drug increases, so does their need for money to support their habit. Excessive borrowing, being broke, asking for money, or trying to sell things or taking on a side job are all warning signs that money is tight.

If your loved one is exhibiting any of these signs, ask them what is going on, investigate, and stick with it. Their life could depend on it, and there is nothing wrong with being inquisitive in this case. If you do find they are addicted, they will need your help and that of those around them who care to beat it.

What are your thoughts on the opioid crisis? Has it affected you or someone you know personally? Leave a comment in the section below.