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7 Signs of Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a common problem in the United States. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, there were 80,411 opioid overdose deaths in 2021.

Opioids are a class of drugs that are mostly prescribed to treat the symptoms of pain. Prescription opioids include substances like morphine, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, and more. There are also illicit opioids like heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF).


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While opioid use disorder is common, it is still extremely scary to watch a loved one go through it. Because opioid overdose death rates continue to rise, knowing how to spot opioid addiction can be a life-saving skill.

If you are worried that your loved one is abusing opioids, look out for the top 7 signs of opioid addiction:

1. Drug Paraphernalia

An easy way to tell if your loved one is abusing opioids is by looking for drug paraphernalia around their living spaces. Drug paraphernalia is equipment that is used to conceal and consume drugs. When it comes to opioid abuse, the type of opioid your loved one is using will determine what kinds of drug paraphernalia they have around their home.

The most common kinds of drug paraphernalia associated with opioid addiction include:

  • Cut up straws used to smoke or snort opioids
  • Pipes used to smoke opioids
  • Small burnt spoons used to heat opioids before injection
  • Needles for injecting opioids
  • Belts or other materials that are used to tie off before injecting
  • Burnt pieces of tin foil used to smoke opioids
  • Small baggies used to hold opioid pills or powdered heroin
  • Powdery residue on surfaces

2. Drastic Changes in Mood and Behavior

If your loved one is abusing opioids, they may experience drastic changes in their mood and behavior. It is important to note that changes in mood and behavior can signify other issues, so this signs of opioid addiction must be in combination with other symptoms. With that being said, opioids can make your loved one act differently than they did before they began abusing drugs.

Examples of behaviors and mood changes to look out for include:

  • An overly euphoric mood during intoxication
  • Mood changes that range from elation to irritability and anger
  • Withdrawn behavior such as isolating from friends and loved ones
  • Changing friend groups to be around other people who abuse opioids
  • Extreme tiredness that cannot be explained by exercise or working long hours
  • Being in a generally bad mood when they are not under the influence of opioids

3. Drug-Seeking Behaviors

Has your loved one been visiting the doctor more than usual? Maybe you have noticed that they have multiple prescriptions for opioids from different doctors. These are some of the most common signs that your loved one is addicted to prescription opioids.

Additionally, your loved one might begin stealing money or prescriptions from their friends and loved ones when they are addicted to opioids. This is because opioid addiction can cause you to feel like the only thing that matters is receiving that next high. In other words, addiction will cause your loved one to do whatever it takes to get the opioids their body craves.

4. Changes in Appearance

If your loved one is abusing an opioid like heroin, their appearance might begin to change. For starters, heroin can suppress your appetite, which can cause your loved one to experience sudden weight loss.

Even further, opioid addiction can cause people to neglect their personal hygiene. On the other hand, some people abusing opioids might stay locked in their bedrooms for days on end, causing their skin to become extremely pale or even appear grayish.

Lastly, people who are abusing opioids intravenously may wear long-sleeved clothes even during the summer months. This is because IV drug use leaves behind needle marks on the skin.

5. Losing Interest in Previously Enjoyed Activities

When someone is addicted to opioids, the drugs become their number one priority because of the way that opioids affect the reward and pleasure portion of your brain. As a result, they might lose interest in activities they used to love.

If your loved one is turning down hanging out with their friends, going to family functions, or participating in hobbies they used to enjoy, they could be abusing opioids.

6. Signs of Opioid Intoxication

One of the most obvious signs of opioid addiction is displaying the symptoms of being under the influence of an opioid drug. Being able to spot the signs of opioid intoxication can provide you with the answers you need about your loved one’s substance abuse.

When someone is under the influence of opioids, they might display the following symptoms:

  • Small, pinpointed pupils
  • Slowed breathing
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Randomly falling asleep or “nodding off”
  • Confusion
  • Euphoria
  • Slowed speech

7. Withdrawal Symptoms

Lastly, a definite sign that your loved one is addicted to opioids is experiencing withdrawal symptoms. If your loved one begins to deal with flu-like symptoms when they cannot abuse opioids, they are suffering from an addiction.

The symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Teary eyes and runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Yawning
  • Abominable cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, however, they must be treated by a professional detox program. If your loved one displays the above-mentioned symptoms, consider enrolling them in a medical detox facility.

Get Help for Opioid Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one are addicted to opioids, it’s time to consider professional help. Opioid addiction can lead to an array of adverse effects, including life-threatening overdoses. At Elevate Recovery, we can provide you with the tools and support you need to maintain long-term sobriety.

To learn more about our inpatient and outpatient opioid rehab programs, contact Elevate Recovery today.


  1. The National Institute of Drug Abuse: Drug Overdose Death Rates, Retrieved June 2023 From
  2. The National Institutes of Health: Opioid Use Disorder, Retrieved June 2023 From
  3. Medline Plus: Opiate and opioid withdrawal, Retrieved June 2023 From


Valerie Tecci, Program Director

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