Here's How to Tell If Someone Is Addicted to Opioids

A new study from Michigan State University found that, out of 4,600 participants, 32% could not identify the symptoms of prescription drug misuse.

Identifying that someone is high from an opioid can be tougher than spotting someone who's drunk, or using marijuana. As New York Magazine notes, "there’s not necessarily an obvious telltale sign — opioids don’t leave a scent on clothes." 

And due to the harsh stigma of addiction, especially when it comes to heroin and prescription pills, people who are suffering often work hard to keep their drug use hidden from friends and family.

So how can you tell when someone has an opioid addiction? Here are the most common signs.

Signs someone is misusing opioids

  • Drowsiness, lack of energy
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and social events
  • Increased secrecy
  • Excessive or intense mood swings
  • In possession of things like excessive pill bottles, needles, spoons, vials, or rubber tubing

Signs someone is high from an opioid

  • Slowed breathing
  • Confusion
  • Clumsiness/poor coordination
  • Sudden nodding off/loss of consciousness, even when sitting or standing
  • Constricted pupils

The signs aren't always crystal clear. But by being aware of the risks and tuned into your loved one's behavior, you'll already be in a much better position to get involved and offer help, if needed.

And that help should begin in the doctor's office. The Michigan State study also found that a whopping 69% of respondents said they would recommend self-help strategies to a person struggling with prescription drug misuse. But addiction is not a character flaw that someone can "self-improve" their way out of. Just as with any other disease, treatment for addiction should be based on science and provided by trained professionals. Learn more about evidence-based treatments for drug addiction here.