Physical Signs of Opioid Addiction and Abuse

woman on the floor hiding her face

How can you determine if someone is addicted to opioids? The signs of opioid abuse may be hard to see, especially in someone you care about. This is a question that has long been asked and unfortunately, sometimes the answer comes too late. One of the worst parts of addiction is finding out when it is too late.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017, 5 people died every hour of an opioid drug overdose. That’s more than 130 people every day, 3,900 a month, over 47,000 people a year. There has been a steady increase in these statistics over the last 20 years.

A 2017 survey conducted by Pew, showed that nearly half of all American’s new a friend or family member who had an addiction problem (we can safely guess that the percentage has risen even higher since then).

We live in a time when no one can afford to say, “it would never happen to me,” “I don’t know anyone who could be an addict.” That is the sad, but very real, truth.

Here are the things to look for:

  • physical agitation
  • constricted pupils
  • poor coordination
  • drowsiness
  • reduced social interactions
  • nausea
  • shallow or slow breathing
  • abandoning responsibilities
  • slurred speech
  • sleeping more or less than normal
  • mood swings
  • poor decision making
  • irritability
  • depression
  • lowered motivation
  • anxiety attacks
  • itchy

Other things to look for: 

Has the person been exhibiting any changes in habits, staying out late, disappearing for a day or two? If you just have a hunch, that’s enough to dig deeper. Most people, if they were not doing drugs, would not get offended if someone asked them if they were. They would probably just say “No, why do you ask?” But when you ask an addict, oftentimes they will get defensive and completely disagree with the accusation.

Are they disconnecting from family and hanging out with a whole new set of friends? How is their appearance? Oftentimes personal hygiene will change for the worse. Addicts can become jittery and keep to themselves.

If you have suspicions, you can look into their spending habits. Are they selling items to get money? Are things being misplaced or lost? Are they asking for money from relatives and friends?

Either way, you need to trust your gut and speak out. It’s better to be wrong than sorry later. And don’t think it will be that easy. Sometimes the addict has become a pro at misleading people off his or her trail. But continue to watch and pay attention to the signs that had you question them to begin with.

Get Help

The bottom line: when opioid addiction has taken over you will need help. Call someone. Get help. That is the most important thing to do. Communicate with someone that is close to them. Gain alliances so that you can get to the bottom of it. Doing or saying nothing will not help, and the problem will not go away on its own.

We have consultants standing by to guide you through this terrible situation. Call us today.



Adrian Heredia

Adrian is a native of Ventura County and has resided in the area for over 40 years. He has had a passion to help his community and people in need with a tremendous amount of volunteer hours to various betterment groups and non-profit organizations. Adrian has a personal drive to work with and assist individuals with drug addiction. His extensive background and personal experience in this area makes Adrian a great asset to the Narconon Ojai Team. Adrian has been entrusted with establishing and ensuring the organization’s viability and success by maintaining the standards set by local, state and federal governing bodies. He is a Registered Drug and Alcohol Technician and works to protect the center with his security team and his sidekick Apollo (the Drug Dog.) He spends his free time volunteering, coaching and playing soccer in Ventura County leagues. Other pastimes include snowboarding, mountain biking and jet skiing.