Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Introduction to Opioid Addiction

Remember that opioid addiction may be present even if you don’t notice all or even most of the signs mentioned in this article. Opioid-dependent people are very good at hiding the signs. Addiction is an insidious disease in many ways. One of those ways is that it encourages the sufferer to cover their tracks. This can make it harder for the people who care about them to see the signs. If you want to help someone who may be addicted, keep reading to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of an opioid use disorder (OUD). We will also provide some guidance as to what you can do to help. If you believe you yourself may have a problem, the lists of signs and symptoms below can help you become more certain. You will also find some advice on what to do if you are opioid-dependent and want help.

Physical Signs

The outward physical signs of opioid addiction will usually become more apparent and harder to hide as use increases. But opioids have inherent effects on the body which you can see if you know what to look for. The more often a person uses these drugs and the higher the dosage and potency, the more obvious the signs will become. Here are some of the physical signs to look for:

  • Excessive drowsiness, “nodding off” at inappropriate times.
  • Itchiness, absent-minded scratching at the neck, face, arms etc. 
  • Overly relaxed speech, “nasally” sounding voice as if the muscles in the throat are too relaxed. 
  • Sudden weight loss, lack of interest in food. 

Behavioral Signs

Opioid addiction affects behavior as well. The use of Percocet, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Heroin, or one of many others changes behavior. These changes are brought about both by the pharmacological effects. They also come from the lifestyle changes needed to get the drugs, conceal the use and maintain the addiction despite increasing consequences and cost. Here are some behavioral signs to look for:

  • Unusually happy and chatty at times, withdrawn and irritable at others. 
  • Secretiveness about new “friends” or when and where they have been.
  • Unexplained spending, signs of stealing or selling prized possessions, financial problems. 
  • Uncharacteristically irresponsible behavior. Missing work, school, important appointments. 

What if Someone Else has Opioid Addiction?

Watching someone you care about go through addiction can be incredibly painful. It’s easy to feel powerless like you are watching the person you love heading for a certain disaster and there is nothing you can do. You should know that simply isn’t true. While you can’t make someone want to get sober, there is a lot you can do to help. Keeping lines of communication open is essential. Let the person know you love them and make them feel safe in confiding with you. They should not be in fear of judgment or criticism. Let them know you want to help. Contact an organization like Long Island Rehabs in advance to find out about options for treatment and even intervention. 

If I have Opioid Addiction?

You may have read through the signs and symptoms above and had some uncomfortable realizations. If you identify with more than one of the signs above, there is a very good chance you are opioid-dependent and may have a problem. There is good reason to have hope though. While addiction to these drugs has become an increasingly serious problem in recent years, the amount of help has increased also. Addiction treatment is more effective and more scientifically advanced than ever before. There has been a renaissance of sorts with the treatment field highly focused on evidence-based treatment that delivers results.

The focus on long-term outcomes has led to some amazing success stories. The truth is you can recover. No, it isn’t easy, but it’s more than possible with the right kind of help. You don’t have to think your way out of an impossible situation. All you really need to bring to the table is a bit of willingness. It starts with accepting the fact that you cannot control your use of opioids. If you believe you’ve lost your ability to control your using, you are on your way to getting better. The next step is believing that someone or something else outside yourself can help. 


Opioid addiction is a cruel master to be sure. But help is available. Whether it’s you or someone you care about who is struggling with drugs, Absolute Awakenings is ready to help. We can help you or your loved one enter drug detox and a first-rate opioid treatment program in the New York City Metro Area. Absolute Awakenings can verify insurance benefits and let you know what a plan will cover. Call Absolute Awakenings right now at (866) 768-0528 and let’s start moving things in the right direction. There isn’t a moment to lose.