Signs of an Opiate Addiction

You've noticed some dramatic (and negative) changes in a loved one recently, and you're wondering if drugs could be behind this worrying transformation.

Opiate addicts invariably attempt to hide their abuse -- or downplay the extent of their abuse -- from their friends and family members, but addicts cannot conceal all of the symptoms of opiate use.

Physical Symptoms of Opiate Use

  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Extreme fatigue (to the point of nodding in and out of consciousness)
  • The use of laxatives (opiates can cause extreme constipation, and the sudden need for laxatives can be a give-away sign)
  • Itching and scratching
  • Needle marks (track marks) or a sudden insistence on wearing long sleeves at all times
  • Pinpoint pupils (abnormally small pupils are a telling sign of opiate use)
  • Bursts of energy followed by sudden extreme fatigue
  • Heavy sweating

Other Signs of Opiate Use

  • Unexplainable financial problems (illicit opiates are expensive, and opiate users develop a tolerance quickly, which dramatically increases the costs of their habit)
  • Unexplained legal problems
  • Bent and burned spoons
  • A sudden change in friends (drug addiction often causes a switch away from long standing friends, to newer and less savory associates)
  • Items disappearing around the house or the sale of personal items
  • A sudden drop in school or work performance

Someone who uses opiates for a valid medical reason may also begin to abuse the medication.

Signs of the abuse of legitimately prescribed medication include:

  • Hiding pills
  • Evidence of doctor shopping (for example, finding prescriptions from numerous doctors for the same pills)
  • Ordering extra pills online
  • Unexplained money problems
  • Signs of intoxication

If you believe that someone you love is abusing opiates, you need to take action. Educate yourself about opiate addiction and learn how to convince the person you love to get help. Opiate addiction is tough, but with treatment it is also beatable.

For more information about opiate addition or opiate treatment programs in your area, call the National Resource Center at 888-471-0430.

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