Opiate Addiction Symptoms to Take Seriously

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease.” As you use opiates, your brain begins to change and pleasure responses are rewired around the use of drugs. This means that the structures and make-up of your brain actually changes. Because of this, issues like drug tolerance, withdrawal, and relapse develop, as does the chronic nature of your use. In fact, at its core, addiction is the seeking and using of drugs, without concern for the dangers it poses.

If you are concerned about your use of opiates, your primary concern might be those changes to your brain. You might, instead, be concerned with what the opiates are doing to your body, your family, your job, or your relationships There is certainly no shortage of negative results from abusing opiates.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids globally, and 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers; an estimated 467,000 people are addicted to heroin.

All symptoms of opiate addiction are serious, but you may not be aware of all of them. For additional information about opiate use disorders, resources to deal with addiction, treatment options, and support, contact Disorders.org at 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) .

General Symptoms

Opiate Addiction Symptoms

Blacking out or forgetting what happened while using opiates is a sign of addiction.

Addictive behaviors share common characteristics that make addictions to substances, like opiates; objects; and behaviors more similar than not. In fact, you are probably performing many of them right now. According to Indiana University Bloomington, these characteristics include:

  • Thinking constantly of your substance of choice
  • Engaging in substance abuse, even when it harms you
  • Engaging compulsively and repeatedly in using your substance of choice
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you do not use frequently enough
  • Losing control of how long, how much, and how often you continue the behavior
  • Denying problems when questions by others
  • Blacking out or forgetting details about your substance abuse
  • Experiencing depression
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling anxious if not completely in control

Obviously, these behaviors aren’t limited to addicts and you don’t need to have all of them to be grappling with an opiate use disorder. However, if you are starting to sense a pattern and these behaviors do mirror your own in regard to opiates, you are probably an addict.

Specific Symptoms

In addition to behavior patterns that mark addiction, there are also more specific symptoms of opiate addiction. These include:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria (feeling high)
  • Increased pain with higher dosages
  • Nausea
  • Poor coordination

In the case of prescribed opioid dependence or addiction, the following behaviors may be present:

  • Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions
  • Taking larger doses than prescribed
  • Excessive changes in mood or hostility
  • Increase or decrease in your amounts of sleep
  • Unfortunate decision-making
  • Appearing to be high—unusually energetic or revved up—or sedated
  • Continually “losing” prescriptions, in order to have more prescriptions written
  • Seeking prescriptions from numerous doctors



If you are showing these symptoms and you are using opiates chronically, you are putting yourself in great danger because the NIDA reports chronic use often leads to:

  • Fatal overdose
  • Spontaneous abortion
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV
  • Collapsed veins
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses
  • Constipation
  • Gastrointestinal cramping
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Various types of pneumonia
  • Deterioration of the brain’s white matter
  • Depressed respiration (slowed breathing)

If you are using chronically and you lessen the amount you use or stop altogether, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goose bumps
  • Involuntary leg movements

If you believe you are suffering from an opiate addiction and you are concerned about your symptoms and possible health problems related to chronic use, it is time for you to get the help you need. Disorgders.org can connect you with resources and knowledgeable sources that can direct you to treatment and educate you on your addiction. What you are dealing with my feel manageable right now, but it won’t always be. Get help while you can. Call 888-647-0051 (Who Answers?) for help.


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