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man taking opioidsOpioids are highly addictive drugs that can include prescription drugs and illegal drugs like heroin. Prescription opioids are prescribed by doctors to treat pain and although many people use them without developing opioid use disorder, many people also become dependent and/or addicted.

Often, it can be very difficult to recognize opioid abuse, especially among friends and loved ones that we care about. It’s hard to believe someone could be addicted when they seem fine. Plus, the signs of opioid addiction don’t always show themselves right away.

Regardless, it’s very important to get treatment for opioid addiction immediately for the best chance at a full recovery. Many prescription opioid abusers end up transitioning to heroin because it’s cheaper and easier to get, but heroin abuse also comes with many harmful side effects and consequences. Getting help right away can help prevent and reduce the negative effects of opioid addiction.

Opioid Abuse in Texas

The opioid abuse problem has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., with 47,600 opioid-related drug overdose deaths in 2017 (67.8% of all drug overdose deaths).1 Unfortunately, Texas is no exception.

Although Texas has one of the lowest rates of opioid-related drug overdose deaths in the U.S., there were 1,458 overdose deaths involving opioids in Texas in 2017. That’s a rate of 5.1 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.2

Amarillo, Longview, Odessa, and Texarkana all rank among the top 20 cities in America for opioid misuse.3 Recent data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also show rising trends in overdoses related to synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) or heroin, but the highest number of Texas overdose deaths in 2017 involved prescription opioids, with 646 total reported deaths.2

There is no easy solution to the nationwide opioid epidemic, but if you think a loved one is abusing opioids, there are several signs you can look for and ways to help them get treatment.

12 Common Signs of Opioid Abuse and Addiction

Opioid abuse is common but it’s not always obvious. If a loved one is struggling, the first step is to go to a doctor or a drug detox professional for help. Here are 12 signs of opioid abuse that could be a cause for concern.4,5,6,7

  1. Being unable to control opioid use

A hallmark sign of drug addiction is compulsive use. Addiction changes the way the brain functions, making it all but impossible for a person to resist the cravings and the “need” for more.

  1. Having cravings for opioid drugs

Chronic opioid abuse can cause cravings, which are strong and intense feelings of needing a drug. Someone who is addicted to opioids may do anything to get the satisfaction and relief that comes with using.

  1. Being excessively drowsy or tired

Opioids interact with certain opioid receptors and nerve cells in the body and brain that can cause drowsiness. Excessive abuse of opioid drugs can exacerbate this effect and will also produce feelings of intense euphoria or a “high”.

  1. Sleeping at odd hours

Opioid abuse can also disrupt sleeping habits and cause excessive sedation. This can make it difficult for someone with opioid use disorder to keep up with responsibilities at school, work, or home.

  1. Suddenly losing or gaining weight

Some people who abuse opioids may experience side effects like nausea or vomiting, which can cause weight loss. They may also spend all their money on drugs instead of nutritious foods. In other cases, a lack of proper nutrition and/or physical activity may cause weight gain.

  1. Frequently having flu-like symptoms

Opioid abuse can cause physical side effects that mimic the flu, such as fever, headache, nausea, and vomiting. This can make it seem like someone is sick with a virus when opioids are the true culprit.

  1. Not expressing an interest in sex

Long-term opioid abuse can lower testosterone and estrogen levels, which can lead to a lack of interest in sex. One study found that pain patients who had used opioids long-term were 81 percent more likely to report lack of sexual desire than individuals who didn’t take opioids for pain.

  1. Not showering, changing clothes, or brushing teeth

People who misuse opioids may become so preoccupied with using that their personal hygiene falls to the wayside. They may forego showers, shaving, and teeth-brushing because they are more focused on getting more opioids and using them.

  1. Having extreme mood swings

Opioid abuse can produce extreme highs and extreme lows. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health also found that individuals suffering from mood and anxiety disorders such as bipolar, panic disorder, and major depressive disorder may be more likely to abuse opioids.9

  1. Isolating oneself from family or friends

People who are misusing opioids may shut out their friends and loved ones to avoid conflict, hide the shame that they feel, or protect their addiction from anyone who might criticize it.

  1. Displaying criminal behavior, stealing from friends and family members

Substance abuse can quickly get expensive and someone who is addicted to opioids might resort to stealing money, credit cards, or valuable items from friends and loved ones to fund their addiction.

  1. Having financial difficulties that are relatively new

Supporting a drug addiction is pricey, especially if a person is abusing prescription drugs, which are more difficult and more expensive to get than heroin. However, addiction can motivate a person to spend all their money on drugs instead of essentials like food or housing.

All of these signs may not be visible right away, but they may gradually begin to display themselves over time. If you are unsure of whether your loved one is addicted, opioid use disorder can be diagnosed by a doctor.

Find an Opioid Detox Program in Houston, Texas

Drug detox is often the first step in overcoming opioid addiction and it’s an important part of the recovery process. Detox addresses the physical aspects of addiction, such as withdrawal symptoms, dependence, and physical recovery from chronic substance abuse. Once detox is over, many people choose to continue their treatment with drug rehab, which focuses on the behavioral and psychological aspects of addiction.

If you’re searching for opioid addiction treatment in Houston, look no further than Briarwood Detox Center. We provide individualized opioid detox programs and multidisciplinary treatment that includes individual and group counseling. Our detox center in Houston is located in the historic Houston Heights neighborhood and offers a tranquil, home-like environment that is ideal for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.

Helping a loved one get opioid addiction treatment in Houston isn’t always easy, but the caring professionals at Briarwood can connect you with a professional interventionist if needed and design a personalized detox program for your loved one. When you’re ready, please call (832) 648-4412 to speak with an admissions specialist.



  1. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/opioid-summaries-by-state/texas-opioid-summary
  3. http://www.uh.edu/hobby/_docs/research/the-opioid-epidemic-in-texas.pdf
  4. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/how-to-spot-signs-of-opioid-addiction
  5. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/opioids/signs-of-opioid-abuse.html
  6. https://www.asahq.org/whensecondscount/pain-management/opioid-treatment/opioid-abuse/
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/how-to-tell-if-a-loved-one-is-abusing-opioids/art-20386038
  8. https://www.physiciansweekly.com/opioids-tied-to-bad/
  9. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111213190158.htm