Addiction Questions Answered
Am I Addicted to Opioids?

Opioids fall into several distinct categories: opioid painkillers, synthetic opioids and illegal opioids. Opioid painkillers include prescription medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. In most instances these medications are only prescribed for moderate or severe pain, and are instructed to be taken for no longer than several weeks at a time because of their addictive nature. The most commonly misused synthetic opioid is fentanyl — a substance roughly 100 times more potent than morphine, which is often combined with illegal opioids to increase their potency and street value. Heroin is the most widely misused illegal opioid, and is responsible for around 15,000 overdose deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you have been struggling with an opioid addiction of any type or severity, there is help available. But how can you tell if your opioid use has started progressing to addiction? At CuraSouth we understand how difficult it can be to diagnose yourself with an addictive disorder. Addiction is a chronic medical condition, one which presents itself differently than other conditions in the sense that it affects all areas of life. Addiction compromises physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It also leads to denial and unrelenting self-destruction. Even if you believe you might be struggling with a diagnosable substance use disorder, admitting this to yourself (and to others) might prove nearly impossible.

At CuraSouth many of us have been exactly where you are now, and we are available to help in any way we can. Contact us today to learn more about opioid addiction and about your recovery options.

How Can You Tell If You Are Experiencing Opioid Addiction?

How can you tell if you are experiencing a diagnosable opioid use disorder? There are several signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for. Remember — identifying an addictive disorder in yourself often proves difficult. If you have been experiencing physical, emotional and behavioral warning signs but you are still unsure, we are available to help. Contact us today and you will be put in touch with one of our experienced and knowledgeable Treatment Advisors, who will help you determine if an opioid use disorder is present and which steps to take next.

Physical Signs of Opioid Addiction

The physical signs of opioid addiction vary depending on the severity of the substance use disorder and the type of opioid being misused. However, physical symptoms of opioid addiction almost always include:

  • Appearing tired and drowsy throughout the day.
  • Sleeping strange hours.
  • Reduced appetite which can lead to noticeable weight loss.
  • A lack of attention paid to personal appearance/personal hygiene.
  • The presence of flu-like symptoms (runny nose, watery eyes, upset stomach, profuse sweating and body aches).
  • Nausea, vomiting and constipation.
  • Small pupils.
  • Slurred speech/compromise cognitive functioning.
  • Decreased libido/sex drive.

If you have been struggling with a diagnosable opioid use disorder, you might look in the mirror and feel as if you hardly recognize yourself. You might be gaunt and listless, while you used to be vibrant and full of life. Maybe your eyes appear sunken in, and you look as if you haven’t eaten a full meal in weeks, or taken a shower and brushed your hair in days. Within days of sobriety you will undeniably start to feel like yourself again. The color will come back into your cheeks and you’ll notice a spark in your eyes once again. The first step towards a restoration of physical health is reaching out for help.

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Emotional & Behavioral Signs of Opioid Addiction

There are also several emotional and behavioral signs of opioid addiction to look for. The emotional and behavioral signs of addiction vary on a person-to-person basis, though the following symptoms are a good indication of a substance use disorder.

  • Obvious changes to mood and demeanor.
  • A loss of interest in activities which were previously enjoyed.
  • Isolation from friends and family/more time spent alone.
  • Defensiveness when substance use is brought up in conversation.
  • Increased or newly developing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression.
  • Changes to sleeping and eating patterns.
  • Experiencing problems at work or at school.
  • Missing out on personal obligations or important engagements.
  • Experiencing issues in interpersonal relationships.
  • Decreased motivation.
  • Legal and financial problems directly related to substance use.
  • Stealing or “borrowing” money from friends or family members.
  • Attempting to cut back or quit but being unable to do so.
  • Changes in exercise habits.
  • Intense and uncontrollable drug cravings.
  • The development of a physical tolerance and withdrawal symptoms which develop when opioid use is stopped suddenly.

Opioid Addiction Quiz

At CuraSouth we have developed an Addiction Quiz geared towards helping you determine whether or not professional treatment has become necessary. We encourage you to answer the following questions as honestly as possible. If you are still unsure once the Quiz is complete, contact us and we will point you in the right direction.

Signs of opioid use and addiction and what to look for in an addictive disorder

Question #1: Do you often use opioids in larger amounts or over a longer period than you intended?

You might have been prescribed a low dose of an opioid painkiller after an invasive surgery or sports injury. Within several weeks you increase your dose without consulting your prescribing physician. If you use opioids in larger amounts than recommended or for a longer period of time than intended, you might be struggling with a diagnosable opioid use disorder.

Question #2: Have you wanted to cut back on opioids or made unsuccessful attempts to do so?

Perhaps you have attempted to cut back on your dose of opioid painkillers, or you have attempted to quit using heroin on your own with little to no success. People who struggle with opioid addiction often attempt to cut back or quit with little to no success. This is one telltale sign of a substance use disorder.

Question #3: Do you spend a great deal of time finding, using, or recovering from using?

People who struggle with opioid addiction develop a preoccupation with their drug of choice. They spend a great deal of time contemplating how they will get their next “fix,” and the majority of their day is consumed by using their drug of choice and recovering from its effects. If you spend a great deal of time obtaining opioids, using opioids and recovering from symptoms of use, treatment is likely necessary.

Question #4: Do you have strong urges or powerful cravings to use opioids?

The psychological cravings which go hand-in-hand with opioid dependence can be intense and overwhelming. You might feel a powerful urge to use which overwhelms all of your other thoughts and seems to plague you until you finally cave in and pick up. Urges to use are a good indication of an opioid use disorder.

Question #5: Has your use of opioids resulted in your inability to meet your obligations at work, home, or school?

Many people who struggle with addiction find it impossible to carry out their day-to-day tasks because they are so preoccupied with using their drug of choice. If you have been struggling with an opioid use disorder, there is a good chance you have had a difficult time meeting your personal obligations. Your performance at work or school has likely declined, and you have a difficult time taking care of personal responsibilities around the house.

Question #6: Have you had to cut back on or abandon social, professional, or recreational activities due to your use of opioids?

As the use of opioid narcotics slowly takes over your life, you start abandoning activities you previously enjoyed. You spend more time alone and less time with your loved ones. Everything takes a backseat to opioid use.

Question #7: Have you repeatedly used opioids when it was hazardous to do so, such as while driving a car?

People who struggle with addictive disorders often begin engaging in more risk-taking behaviors. They might combine opioid narcotics with other chemical substances like alcohol, or get behind the wheel of a car while they are high. If you have been engaging in more risky behaviors than normal, you might be struggling with an addiction.

Question #8: Have you experienced social or relationship problems due to your opioids use and kept using anyway?

Maybe your friends have expressed concern about your opioid use, and you have pushed them away as a direct result. Maybe your family members have encouraged you to seek treatment and set personal boundaries to protect themselves mentally and emotionally. People who struggle with opioid addiction often experience strained interpersonal relationships and continue using regardless.

Question #9: Have you kept using opioids knowing that it has caused or worsened physical or mental health issues?

If a medical doctor or psychiatric professional has recommended you stop using opioids but you continue to use regardless, you might be struggling with a physical opioid dependence.

Question #10: When you attempt to cut back on or stop your use of opioids, have you experienced uncomfortable physical or mental health symptoms (withdrawal)?

The physical and psychological symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal can be harshly unpleasant. If you attempt to cut back on the amount being taken or quit entirely, you might experience severe stomach cramping, restlessness, insomnia, severe anxiety and body aches and pains. Withdrawal is an undeniable sign of physical dependence on a substance.

Question #11: Have you needed more opioids to feel the effects you’re seeking (tolerance)?

Over time, your body becomes accustomed to the presence of opioids. The chemistry of your brain changes, and you develop a physical tolerance. This means more of the drug is required in order for the desired effects to be produced.

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Results of the Opioid Addiction Quiz

Generally speaking, professionals look for the presence of two or more of these criteria in a 12-month period when evaluating a patient for a diagnosable opioid use disorder. Answering “yes” to two or more of these questions may indicate the potential presence of an opioid use disorder, though only a medical doctor or treatment professional can provide an official diagnosis. These criteria are utilized by the American Psychiatric Association and clearly outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V). If you personally answered “yes” to two or more of the above-listed questions, there is a very good chance you will immensely benefit from some level of clinical care. Contact us today and we will help place you in the treatment program which best meets all of your personal, clinical needs.

How to Get Help Treating Your Opioid Addiction

If you think you have been struggling at the hands of a diagnosable opioid use disorder, what steps can you take to receive the treatment you need? At CuraSouth we recommend beginning your personal recovery journey with a short-term stay in an inpatient detox center. The symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, and often lead a person back to opioid use before they have fully subsided. At CuraSouth we treat the symptoms of withdrawal as soon as they develop, minimizing discomfort and speeding along the detox process. We recommend the following steps for anyone who has been struggling with opioid addiction:

The longer the program of recovery, the more successful the outcome. At CuraSouth we effectively treat all symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal with a combination of medication assisted treatment, evidence-based therapies and holistic treatment options. While our main priority is providing each of our clients with a safe and pain-free drug or alcohol withdrawal, we also focus on adequately preparing each client for the remainder of their addiction recovery journey.

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    Begin Your Opioid Addiction Recovery Journey Today

    The first step towards a life of fulfilled addiction recovery is making the decision to reach out for help. At CuraSouth we provide an opioid detox experience quite unlike any other. In addition to providing our clients with a safe withdrawal from prescription and illegal opioids, we help pave the road for continued sobriety. We offer individual therapy, group therapy and therapeutic services for the loved ones of our clients. Our case managers help clients develop personalized aftercare plans, making the transition to a higher level of clinical care seamless and stress-free. If you or someone you love has been struggling with an opioid use disorder of any type, we are available to help. Simply contact us and you will be put in touch with one of our experienced and compassionate Treatment Advisors, who will get you started with our simple admissions process. To learn more about our detox center in Tampa, Florida or to get started with admissions, contact us today.

    Travis Atchison

    Reviewed for accuracy by our Clinical Director:

    Travis Atchison
    LCSW, MCAP


    Travis is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Addiction Professional. He has worked in various community-based settings, where he served families and couples, addressed issues related to homelessness and crisis and worked in a substance abuse setting.