Opioid Addiction Symptoms and Signs

Opioids, also known as opiates, are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as powerful pain relievers available legally through prescriptions. Prescription painkillers are used to treat pain and are often prescribed for people who have undergone surgery, had dental work, experienced a sports injury, or suffer from chronic illnesses such back pain or arthritis, etc.

Examples of prescribed opioid medications include:

  • Codeine – an ingredient in some cough syrups and in one Tylenol® product
  • Hydrocodone – Vicodin®, Lortab®, or Lorcet®
  • Oxycodone – Percocet®, OxyContin®, or Percodan®
  • Hyrdromorphone – Dilaudid®
  • Morphine – MSContin®, MSIR®, Avinza®, or Kadian®
  • Propxyphene – Darvocet® or Darvon®
  • Fentanyl – Duragesic®

Over the years, there has been a drastic increase in people that use prescription painkillers for non-medical uses, often having started with a legitimate prescription for the opioid. Over time, the user develops tolerance and dependence, which leads to greater use and addiction. Studies have shown that 4 out of every 5 heroin users today started by misusing prescription painkillers. In fact, the rise of heroin is in large part due to the far more expensive and difficult access to illegal painkillers making heroin an inexpensive option for addicted individuals to continue using opioids.

Signs of opiate intoxication include:

  • Reduced social interaction
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor memory or concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slow movement and reactions
  • Mood swings
  • Apathy
  • Depression

Opioid withdrawal symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Increased tearing
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting