Opioid addiction is one of the most challenging and difficult conditions to overcome for both patients and their loved ones. According to the National Institutes of Health, using opioids can alter brain chemistry, eventually requiring increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effects, with long-term use leading to dependence and excruciating withdrawal symptoms if the drug is discontinued.

Whether the patient started using opioids for pleasure or became dependent on legal opioids that were prescribed for pain, the effects on the patient and family can be severe physically, emotionally, and financially. That is why it is important to recognize the symptoms of opioid abuse and act as quickly as possible to seek treatment for those affected.


Not everyone who takes opioids becomes dependent on them or addicted, but due to their ability to manage pain extremely well and produce heightened states of euphoria, opioids are one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the factors that can contribute to opioid abuse include:

  • A family history of addiction
  • A personal history of substance abuse
  • A history of depression, anxiety, or PTSD
  • Economic stresses like unemployment or financial insecurity
  • Exposure to high-risk environments where the drug is readily available

For those who are at higher risk, it can be quite easy to cross the line from casual use to addiction, before realizing that there is a problem.


When a friend or family member is suffering from opioid addiction, you may notice a variety of changes in behavior and lifestyle. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, the most common signs of SUD (Substance Use Disorder) abuse include:

  • Losing interest in favorite activities
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Missing work, school, or important appointments
  • Changes in sleep and diet
  • Mood swings
  • Emotional changes
  • Reduced self-care
  • Legal and financial problems

Those who suffer from an addiction may also be less than honest about the frequency of their opioid use, and they may take extreme measures to acquire more opioids.


When someone who is dependent on opioids stops taking them suddenly, they will often experience withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be debilitating. These can include:

  • Intense opioid cravings
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, or stomach pain
  • Tremors, chills, and sweating
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Cramping
  • Runny nose

When a friend or family member suffers from an opioid addiction, you may notice these symptoms between periods of drug use. Other symptoms to be aware of include the signs of an opioid overdose, which include slow or shallow breathing, extreme tiredness, speech problems, gurgling sounds, and blue-colored lips and skin. If an overdose occurs, call emergency authorities immediately.


When you need caring, experienced professionals to help a friend or loved one with an opioid addiction, trust our team at The Blanchard Institute. We offer a wide range of outpatient opioid abuse treatment programs in the Charlotte area, including partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, recovery management programs, and more. We are dedicated to the well-being of our clients, and we will help them work towards a successful recovery.

Call (704) 288-1097 or contact us online to learn more about our opioid abuse treatment center in Charlotte.

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