girl addicted to opiates

6 Signs Your Loved One is Addicted to Opiates

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

“Opioids are substances that act on the nervous system in a similar way to opiates such as morphine and codeine. In a medical context the term usually indicates medications that are artificially made rather than extracted from opium.” Opiate addiction is real and it is an epidemic. This includes but is not limited to prescription pills like Percocet and Hydrocodone, heroin and opium. Prescription pills are among the most abused drugs in the United States, with addiction rates at all time highs. Opiates can cause fatal overdoses, in 2014 over 25,000 people died from an overdose related to prescription pills. Heroin has been linked to over 8,800 deaths in 2013, that number is nearly 4x greater than in 2003. Opiates are fatal and they are taking our country hostage. Knowing the signs of opiate addiction can help save a life.


  1. Pinned Pupils

Opiates cause pupils to constrict or to become much smaller in size. If you have noticed that your loved one’s pupils are much smaller than usual, especially when in a darker space you should say
something to them. People who are struggling with opiate addiction are not able to offset this effect. If you have a small light on hand this is very easy to test. Turn off most of the lights in the room, shine the light into your loved one’s eye. When you remove the light if their pupils don’t dilate they maybe struggling with opiate addiction. Use your eye or someone else’s as a point of reference for what the pupil should look like.

  1. Financial Issues

Have you noticed your change jar is lower than you remembered it? Are you constantly “misplacing” cash? Have mysterious charges showed up on credit card statements? Have valuables gone missing from your home without reason? then keep a close eye on your loved ones. When someone is addicted to opiates they are almost guaranteed to have financial issues. Opiates demand daily use or painful physical withdrawal will take place.

  1. Change in Speech/Nodding Out

Opiate addiction will cause speech to become slower and words to become slurred and often mumbled.You may notice them slowly going in and out of complete conciousness, this is often referred to as nodding out. They may bump into walls, walk slower, drop and misplace items frequently and when severely intoxicated drool. When under the influence opiate addicts will get itchy skin and scratch it frequently. Clammy hands and a sweaty forehead are also common.

  1. Change in Sleeping Patterns

All drugs in the opiate family will cause physical dependence with prolonged use c When opiate addicts are nodding out they are not actually sleeping, the REM state is not reached and the body never gets the rest it really needs. Most people struggling with opiate addiction will need opiate to sleep, if they do not have them their body will go into withdrawal and actual sleep becomes near impossible.

  1. Physical Changes

Opiate addiction can cause some dramatic physical changes in a person. Weight loss is one of the most common. When someone is addicted to opiates they will usually put drugs ahead of all other things, in-front of food, family, friends and sleep. Opiates also suppress appetite. Along with weight loss you may see; lack of pigment in the skin, small cuts and bruises, open sores, small needle marks (look like small bug bites/popper blood vessels), poor oral and physical  hygiene and frequent bloody noses.


  1. Behavioral Changes

Opiates change the chemical makeup of the brain. You may notice you loved one is more easily upset and can be brought to tears over something small. They may switch from being happy to angry in the blink of an eye. When you approach them about their potential opiate addiction they instantly become offended, angry and defensive. You may notice that they are hanging out with new people that you never met before. They will be out for long periods of time without any explanation of where they have been.


Are You or a Loved One Struggling?

If you or a loved are struggling with opiate addiction please reach out today, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. At First Steps Recovery, we never give up on residents. Opiate addiction cause too much pain and heartbreak in our country, help stop the pain today. Please call us today if you or a loved one are struggling, 1-844-BIG-STEP (1-844-489-0836).

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