Signs of Opioid Misuse and Dependence

Prescription opioids usually come in pill form and are prescribed by doctors for severe pain—for ailments such as pain from dental surgery, serious sports injuries, or cancer. Opioids are also commonly prescribed to treat other kinds of pain that last a long time (chronic pain).

When opioids are taken as prescribed by a medical professional for a short time, they are usually relatively safe and can reduce pain effectively. But opioid dependence and addiction are potential risks when taking prescription opioids. Opioid misuse is when you take opioids in a manner not prescribed by your doctor. Opioid misuse can lead to dependence and addiction. Dependence means you feel withdrawal symptoms when not taking the drug. Continued use can lead to addiction, where you continue to use opioids even though you’re experiencing negative consequences. Prescription medications are some of the most commonly misused drugs by teens, after tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana.

According to The Mayo Clinic, the following symptoms are common when prescription opioids are misused and abused:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Feeling high (sense of euphoria)
  • Slowed breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Increased pain with higher doses

Other signs may include:

  • Stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Mood swings, irritability, or hostility
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Poor decision-making
  • Appearing to be high
  • Continually needing new prescriptions because of “lost prescriptions”
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one medical doctor

Opioids can also cause low blood pressure, slowed breathing, the potential for breathing to stop, a coma, and death.

If you or someone you know needs help with opioid addiction, please call 1-877-HELP-4AL now. The helpline provides confidential assistance for those who need help themselves, and guidance for those seeking help for loved ones. When you call, you’ll be greeted by a friendly, compassionate peer-support specialist who has personal experience in recovery from a mental health or substance abuse issue. They are here to help you and will never judge you or your circumstances.

No Judgment: Opioid Help is Here.

The Council on Substance Abuse-NCADD (COSA-NCADD) provides opioid abuse recovery support for Alabama residents. We work with providers and organizations that can help those who want freedom from opioid misuse, dependence, and addiction.