4240 Blue Ridge Boulevard, Suite 301 Kansas City MO 64133


During the COVID 19 pandemic, we are still seeing new and current patients in our clinics and we are now also providing remote consultations through video conferencing. Please call our offices to schedule a consultation.

Kansas City: 816-205-8050

opioid treatment programs in St Louis & Kansas City

Early Signs of Opioid Abuse

Early Signs of Opioid Abuse

Identifying signs of addiction is something anyone can do once they know what to look for. But that’s easier said than done. The symptoms of opioid addiction will pretty much go under the radar and blow up in the end. The truth is that most people don’t know the symptoms of a developing opioid addiction and therefore ignore all the tell-tale signs until it becomes a full-blown problem. This is especially true if prescription drugs are involved. Individuals with an opioid abuse problem will develop a dependency and find ways to justify their use, but this does bud up their tolerance to the drugs and makes them feel like they need more and more of it to get the same satisfaction.

Let’s look at some critical pointers for a developing opioid abuse problem so you can take action and save an addict before it becomes an even bigger problem. These are precursors to an addiction that you ought to watch out for.

Physical signs of opioid abuse

Eventually, the effects of opioid use will manifest physically—even if it is for a short while. These symptoms may eventually become permanent side effects of using opioids. These signs include:

  • Slowed and shallow rate of breathing
  • Constipation
  • Loss of coordination especially hand to eyes to legs
  • Excessive nausea and vomiting
  • Low energy levels, drowsiness, and sedation
  • Itching and scratching that won’t go away.
  • Track marks from where the opioids were administered intravenously.

Behavioral signs of opioid abuse

Each person is different, but opioids elicit some standard symptoms, which you can see from a noticeable behavioral, demeanor, and mood change. These are:

  • Sudden, erratic, and dramatic mood swings
  • Secrecy and dishonesty
  • Isolation and reclusive behavior, i.e., avoiding social interactions
  • Conflict with family and friends.
  • Inability to meet targets and fulfill commitments
  • Sudden changes to routines or regular habits
  • Being constantly on medication often higher dosage than is prescribed.
  • Doctor hopping or jumping from doctor to doctor with the same conditions expecting prescriptions
  • Financial issues and sometimes legal issues.

A person who is constantly on opioids develops a dependency on the drugs to make them feel ‘normal.’ Otherwise, they will experience withdrawal symptoms that bear a close semblance to symptoms of the flu. The signs of dependency are:

  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tremors
  • Diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and vomiting
  • Sweating, yawning, and general restlessness and uneasiness
  • Dilated pupils, larger than is normal.
  • Goosebumps
  • Anxiety and depression
  • A preoccupation with buying more drugs

Once a person becomes hooked on opioids, they get to the tolerance stage where they need more and more of it to feel the same way a smaller dose would.  These would aggravate and lead to the long-term effects of opioid abuse. Here are some symptoms of long-term opioid abuse.

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infection of heart valves and blood vessels from bacteria introduced to the body via injections
  • Constant and significant respiratory tract diseases like Tuberculosis, bronchitis, etc.
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Compromised immune system
  • Mental health issues like depression and anxiety disorders
  • Boils on the skin and damaged veins that are sometimes scarred and collapsed.
  • Gastrointestinal complications like bowel perforation, constipation, and intestinal obstruction
  • Contracting diseases transmitted through blood contacts like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV and AIDS.

If you or someone you know or care about has an opioid addiction, the best course of action is to get them help from a drug treatment center before the opioid abuse disorder becomes worse. After enrolling in a suboxone clinic, suboxone doctors will prescribe suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) which helps to treat opioid abuse patients in their rehabilitation phase.

To find out more on buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone), opioid dependence, and our holistic treatment model, get in touch with us today.