Because many opioids are in prescription form, opioid addiction is both dangerous and insidious. Indicators of opioid addiction are typically evident during advanced stages of addiction, however they may be noticeable early on if one is aware of the signs to look for. According to a study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 4 percent of Americans met the criteria for a substance use disorder within the past year, with approximately 10 percent reporting a substance use disorder at some time in their lives. 

While many indicators of addiction are universal, some substances generate particular side effects within the user. Such is true with opioid abuse. Opioids are highly addictive depressant that are solely responsible for the opioid epidemic that has been ongoing since the late 1990s. Because of this, it is important to understand the common indicators of substance addiction in general, as well as the unique signs of opioid abuse. By understanding these symptoms, you will be equipped to discern if you or a loved one is battling an opioid addiction. 

Common Indicators of Addiction

Many signs of addiction are universal. These common indicators may be applied to any substance addiction, from opioids, to amphetamines and alcohol. They include:

Change in Appearance

If an individual has lost or gained significant weight, it is often a sign that a substance addiction has developed. Being indifferent towards personal hygiene or grooming is also common among those battling addiction.

Financial and Legal Troubles

Those struggling with a substance addiction are frequently involved in legal issues, such as arrests or receiving citations. Due to the cost of maintaining a supply of their drug of choice, financial stress is another common indicator of abuse. 

Loss of Interest 

Once an addiction has fully formed, individuals often lose interest in hobbies and relationships they once enjoyed. The addiction eventually becomes the sole interest of the individual.

Neglecting Responsibilities

Neglecting family, employment, or other fundamental responsibilities is a strong indicator of substance abuse. Once addiction has developed, the only remaining responsibility in the mind of the user is obtaining more of their drug of choice. 

Signs of Opioid Abuse

Opioids have a profound impact on an individual’s life and overall health. The following signs are unique to opioid abuse. Along with the previously listed common indicators, the following side effects are indicators that opioid use has developed into an addiction. 

Dizziness or Lack of Balance

Those addicted to opioids often display a lack of coordination, balance, and motor control. Due to the sedative quality of these drugs, dizziness is also very common. Falls and other accidents are frequent when opioids are being abused as they severely impact the central nervous system. When an individual seems perpetually dizzy or off-balance, they may be struggling with an opioid addiction. 

Poor Immune System

Prolonged or excessive opioid use weakens the body’s immune response significantly. As opioids target opioid receptors in the brain, they can potentially affect receptors on immune cells as well. This poses a very real threat to users of heroin, an opioid most commonly administered via injection, who are already at risk for contracting viruses such as HIV or hepatitis. If an individual is increasingly susceptible to illness, it is an indicator that an opioid addiction has formed.  


Opioid use chemically manipulates neurotransmitters and receptors within the brain. After an extended period of opioid use, the brain becomes irreversibly altered. This alteration in chemistry frequently causes mental disorders to develop. According to a study conducted by the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences,  patients on chronic opioid therapy have been shown to have relatively higher levels of comorbid clinical depression of up to 38%. The development of a mental disorder, commonly depression, is a strong indicator that opioids are being abused.

Asheville Recovery Center Can Help  

Opioids are highly addictive substances that have the potential to cause irreversible damage when abused. It is important to seek help immediately if you or a loved one is struggling with this addiction. At Asheville Recovery Center, treatment specialists have developed a unique, hybrid model of treatment which combines a traditional 12-step program with holistic rehabilitation. A multitude of services, programs, and therapies are offered, including the Partial Hospitalization Program, Residential-style treatment, outpatient rehabilitation, and more. 

The founders of Asheville Recovery Center, as well as many of our addiction therapists, have struggled with addiction and now enjoy life in recovery. They understand the struggles of addiction and how difficult it is to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call (828)518-6996 and speak with an addiction expert today so you can take the first step towards a rewarding life of sobriety.

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