An opioid overdose requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know exhibits any of the symptoms.
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Signs of Use

Signs of USE

How can I tell if someone is misusing opioids?

Most people don’t find themselves addicted to prescription drugs, but some do, especially when taking them not as prescribed or for an extended period of time. Studies suggest that up to one-third of people who take opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and more than 10% become addicted over time.

Someone is also at increased risk of addiction if they obtain opioids without a prescription. And using opioids illegally increases the risk of drug-related death. Illegal drugs such as fentanyl may be laced with life-threatening contaminants or much more powerful opioids. And people who use opioids illegally often turn to heroin, a cheap replacement with similar effects.

Common signs of opioid addiction
  • Regularly taking an opioid in a way not intended by the doctor who prescribed it, including taking more than the prescribed dose or taking the drug for the way it makes a person feel
  • Taking opioids "just in case," even when not in pain
  • Mood changes, including excessive swings from elation to hostility
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Borrowing medication from other people or "losing" medications so that more prescriptions must be written
  • Seeking the same prescription from multiple doctors, in order to have a "back up" supply
  • Poor decision-making, including putting himself or herself and others in danger
If someone you care about is addicted to opioids, you're also likely to experience changes in your thoughts and behaviors. You may find yourself:
  • Worrying about the person’s drug use, ranging from persistent anxiety to full-blown fear that your loved one is going to die
  • Lying or making excuses for your loved one's behavior
  • Withdrawing from them to avoid their mood swings and confrontations
  • Thinking about or acting on the urge to call the police when they are using drugs or obtaining them illegally
Source: Mayo Clinic


It’s common – and entirely human – to avoid addressing your concerns for fear your relationship or family will fall apart. You may believe you’d know it was time for action if your loved one’s addiction was truly serious. Some addiction experts now recommend that doctors interview family members as part of routine follow-up care for a person taking opioid medications. But don’t wait to be asked before you voice your concerns.

A person addicted to opioids – or any substance – is much more likely to recover if his or her family refuses to ignore or tolerate the problem. If you think your loved one may be addicted to opioids, talk with their doctor right away. Together you can determine the best next steps.