Opiate Addiction Symptoms

opiate addiction symptomsAt first glance, prescription painkillers like Vicodin may not seem to have much in common with illegal drugs like heroin.Painkillers are found in a pharmacy. Illegal drugs are bought from drug dealers who operate in back alleys.

Despite this impression, these drugs are all considered opiates.Opiate drugs can lead to intense addiction in almost no time at all. The key is to spot the addiction early and to get help to avoid serious long-term consequences.

Physical Symptoms

The physical symptoms of drug addiction will happen to almost everyone who takes an opiate drug for any length of time. However, they can be easy to miss. The physical symptoms of opiate addiction are most obvious when addicted people stop taking their drugs. This is called withdrawal. Some symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Agitation and irritation
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea

Opiate withdrawal symptoms tend to start within about 12 hours of the missed dose. Some drugs stick around in the body longer. This causes a delay between drug use and withdrawal symptoms.[1] While these symptoms aren’t generally considered life-threatening, they can be deadly in terms of addiction. Few people manage to handle these physical symptoms without returning to their opiate drug of choice. Many people feel miserable and experience deep cravings for drugs.Then they circle back for relief.

Withdrawal symptoms are a sure sign of a physical dependence on an opiate drug. An addicted individual may have these symptoms, but there are some people without addictions that struggle with withdrawal. The key difference between the addicted and the non-addicted involves psychological responses to drug abuse.

Psychological Symptoms of Opiates

Psychological symptoms affect some users who are physically addicted. Opiate addiction is when an individual has both psychological and physical symptoms of dependence are present. One thing that is unclear is how long opiates must be used before they have an opiate addiction.

In a recent study, researchers diagnosed rats with opiate addictions after 30 weeks of use. Some suggest that people who have a genetic history of alcohol and drug addiction could become addicted to an opiate within the first few days of use.[2] No matter how long it takes, the psychological symptoms of addiction are not apparent until after physical dependence sets in.

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Cravings for the drug
  • A preoccupation with maintaining enough drugs
  • The urge to increase the frequency of the doses
  • The urge up the amount of the doses
  • Combining the prescription with alcohol or other drugs

People with these signs have an addiction. It is important to get help from a comprehensive treatment program as soon as possible.

Rehab at The Canyon

Some people have mental illnesses as well as addictions. In fact, The National Alliance of Mental Illness suggests that this kind of dual issue is remarkably common. Close to one-third of all people with mental illnesses also dealing with issues of substance abuse.[3] For anyone who struggles with a psychological disorder in addition to opiate addiction issues, seek treatment at a Dual Diagnosis drug rehab center. Facilities like this are able to provide medical detox assistance with the help of consulting physicians. You can also find psychological assistance for mental illness. This is the kind of help we provide at The Canyon.

The Canyon is a licensed Dual Diagnosis treatment facility. Our staff members specialize in substance abuse and addiction treatment, which gives patients the highest quality care available. If you have any questions about what to expect in our opiate rehab program, contact us at The Canyon.


[1] https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8848439 The Development of Opiate Addiction in the Rat. Heyne, A.

[3] http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Related-Conditions/Dual-Diagnosis Dual Diagnosis.

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