Understanding Addiction

Substance Misuse Disorder Doesn't Discriminate
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What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of powerful drugs that are routinely prescribed to treat severe pain, but they can also be associated with problematic use or, in some cases, fatal overdose.

Not Just "Street" Drugs

When people think of opioid use, they may think of street-obtained opioids, such as heroin or fentanyl. However, problematic opioid use can include improperly taking prescribed opioid medications such as oxycodone, morphine or codeine, or taking an opioid medication that was not prescribed for you.

Be Prepared, Save A Life

If you suspect someone you know uses opioids, it’s a good idea to have a free naloxone kit. Narcan is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an overdose and allow time for help to arrive.

What To Look For

Signs & Symptoms

Opioid addiction is defined by a group of signs, symptoms, and behaviors that indicate a person is both physically and psychologically dependent on the substance. Opioid addiction involves more than just physical dependence. For example, a cancer patient who is prescribed opioids for severe pain may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication but is not addicted. Opioid addiction also involves psychological dependence. This means that the drug is so central to the person’s life that the need to keep using becomes a craving or compulsion, even if the person knows that using is harmful.

Cravings and increasing tolerance may lead the person to buy drugs on the street or go to more than one doctor to get the same drug. They may smoke, snort, crush, or inject the drug in order to feel high faster and more intensely. This could affect their relationships with family members or friends, or cause a person to neglect their responsibilities.

Examples of Signs & Symptoms

Prolonged Use & Overuse

Using over a longer period or using more than planned.

Need To Quit & Unsuccessful Quitting

Wanting to quit or cut down, or trying unsuccessfully to quit.

Time Consumption

Spending a lot of time and effort getting, using and recovering from opioids.


Experiencing cravings and fixitating on next dose.

Decreased Productivity & Responsibilities

Failing to fulfill responsibilities at work, school or home as a result of opioid use.

Disregard Of Consequences

Continuing to use opioids despite the negative social consequences caused by opioid use.

Disinterest In Hobbies

Giving up activities that were once enjoyable.

Increasing Tolerance

Needing to take more of the drug to get the same effect (tolerance, a sign of physical dependence).

Withdrawal Symptoms

Feeling ill when opioid use suddenly stops (withdrawal, a sign of physical dependence.

Dangerous Intake Methods

Crushing, snorting, smoking or injecting opioids.

Visiting Multiple Providers Or Street

Drawing on many sources for opioids (e.g., prescriptions from two or more physicians or both a prescription and street opioids).


Showing signs of opioid intoxication (e.g., nodding off, pinpoint pupils).


An opioid misuse disorder is defined as a problematic pattern of opioid use that leads to serious impairment or distress. Doctors use a specific set of criteria to determine if a person has a substance use problem. To be diagnosed with an opioid use disorder, a person must have 2 symptoms within a 12-month period of time.

Next Steps

Treatment Options

Inpatient Facilities

Harm Reduction

Withdrawal Management

Outpatient Facilities

Medication-Assisted Treatment

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Recovery Is Possible

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Narcotics Anonymous: A Path to Recovery

Narcotics Anonymous: A Path to Recovery

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a fellowship designed for individuals who have struggled with substance use and are seeking a supportive community to aid in their recovery.

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