man with a syringe in his hand

As the Opioid Epidemic continues to plague this nation, a loved one suffering from drug addiction impacts a growing number of families each day. With the rate of opioid overdose deaths at the highest they have ever been, it is crucial to recognize the signs of opioid addiction early.

The signs that a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction, however, are not always readily apparent.

This list provides five key signs that a loved one may have a serious problem with heroin/opioid/prescription painkiller addiction.

Unexplained financial issues

One of the defining characteristics of opioid addiction is an ever-increasing tolerance to the A man nods outnarcotics, necessitating a greater supply.

This, in turn, leads to an increasing financial burden on the user to maintain a steady supply of narcotics. It is not uncommon for opioid addiction to be on the scale of hundreds of dollars per day.

Thus, most suffering from opioid addiction will have great financial difficulties without any legitimate explanation as to why.

They will often ask loved ones for financial support. They may begin selling many of their possessions in order to procure funds for the addiction. Finally, they may even resort to stealing in order to fuel the habit.


Opioids cause respiratory depression, which in turn causes the user to “nod-out”, or briefly lose consciousness at seemingly random or inappropriate times of the day. While many will have a host of excuses for this behavior, such as being tired or not sleeping right, it is a classic sign of opioid abuse.

This can become outright dangerous at times, particularly when it occurs while driving an automobile or in a public place.

Mood swings

One of the main reasons opioids are so psychologically addictive is the intense euphoria and sense of well being (despite the surrounding chaos) in which they cause the user to experience. This is coupled with essentially the exact opposite feelings when the user experiences withdrawal from opioids.

The result is intense mood swings that are entirely dependent on the chemical situation for the user, and not the surrounding circumstances. These mood swings are often a great indicator of opioid addiction.

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Drug-using paraphernalia

Opioid addiction is often coupled with a host of paraphernalia that may seem innocent, but when put together is often a great indicator of drug addiction. While the obvious articles such as syringes and the drugs themselves need no mention, the items used by the addict to administer the narcotics vary.

Those who prefer to insufflate, or snort, the narcotics will typically use straws, rolled up paper money, and credit card shaped items to spread the powder out.

Those who inject the substances require a whole host of paraphernalia. The drugs will often be mixed in bottle caps or spoons, filtered with cotton from q-tips or cigarettes, and objects such as a belt, cell phone chargers, etc may be used to tie off the arm to locate a vein.

Physical symptoms, including withdrawal

Those suffering from an opioid addiction will eventually display physical symptoms of the addiction. If the user is injecting, the most obvious will be the marks from the frequent needle punctures found over veins (or wearing long-sleeved shirts in the summer/warm temperatures to prevent displaying these).

Opioid addiction also is often associated with weight loss, pasty/pale appearance, and a general lack of hygiene.

The most obvious physical symptoms of opioid abuse appear during withdrawal from the substances. These symptoms include extreme nausea, flu-like symptoms, pronounced anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness.

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.