Tolerance to Withdrawal: Signs of Opioid Addiction

Opioids, commonly prescribed for pain management, can lead to a physiological and psychological dependence that manifests through various signs and symptoms.

From changes in behavior and physical symptoms to social isolation and psychological distress, recognizing these signs can be a vital step in providing support and intervention for those in need.

Close up of a person hiding their face in their hands. Image of prescription painkillers. Text shares common signs of an opioid addiction.


Key Takeaways

Opioid addiction can have devastating physical, emotional, and social impacts, affecting millions of individuals and their families. Here’s what you need to know:

For more information, contact Indiana Center for Recovery at (844) 650-0064 and receive personalized treatment services to embrace a drug-free life.

Opioid Addiction Rates in Indiana

Opioid abuse rates in Indiana have been a growing concern in recent years, with statistics painting a grim picture of the state’s struggle with this epidemic. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, in 2019, there were 1,137 opioid overdose deaths in the state, a 25 percent increase from the previous year.

Additionally, data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that in 2020, 5.4 percent of Indiana residents aged 12 and older had misused opioids in the past year.

Opioid Addiction Explained

Opioid addiction, often referred to as opioid use disorder (OUD), is a complex and chronic medical condition characterized by the compulsive use of opioids despite negative consequences. Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.

According to research and studies, understanding opioid addiction involves considering the brain’s role, risk factors, and the development of this disorder.

The Brain and Opioid Abuse

Opioid addiction is a complex issue rooted in the way opioids interact with the brain’s reward system. Opioids bind to receptors in the brain, triggering the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.

This flood of dopamine creates intense feelings of euphoria, reinforcing the desire to use opioids. Over time, the brain adapts to the constant presence of illicit and prescription opioids, leading to tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects.

Additionally, the brain undergoes structural and functional changes, making it increasingly difficult for individuals to control their opioid use.

Development of Opioid Addiction

The development of opioid addiction is a gradual process characterized by several stages. It typically begins with initial experimentation or medical use of synthetic opioids for pain relief. However, individuals may require higher doses as tolerance develops to achieve the desired effect.

This can lead to an escalation in use and eventually dependence, where the individual experiences opioid withdrawal symptoms when opioids are not present in their system. Cravings intensify during this stage, and the pursuit of opioids becomes a central focus in the person’s life.

As addiction progresses, it can lead to various negative consequences, including physical and mental health issues, strained relationships, and legal problems.

Risk Factors for Opioid Dependence

Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing opioid addiction.

Some of these include:

Signs of an Opioid Addiction

Recognizing the signs of opioid addiction is crucial for early intervention and support.

Here are some common signs to look out for:

Physical Signs

Behavioral Signs

Psychological Signs

If you or someone you know is showing these signs, seeking professional help is important.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Approaches

There are several evidence-based approaches to treating side effects of opioid addiction, and the choice of treatment depends on the individual’s needs and circumstances.

Here are some components of opioid addiction treatment:


Detox is the initial phase of treatment, where the person stops using opioids to allow the drug to clear from their system. It can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the severity of the addiction.

Medical supervision is often necessary, as withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and, in some cases, life-threatening. Medications like buprenorphine or methadone may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment programs have emerged as a critical component of combating opioid medication addiction. These programs provide individuals with a safe and structured environment to receive intensive care and support.

Patients live on-site for an extended period, typically from a few weeks to several months. Residential treatment facilities offer medically supervised detoxification, ensuring a safe and comfortable withdrawal from opioid drugs.

Therapy and Counseling

Therapy and counseling play a pivotal role in opioid addiction treatment. Individual and group therapy sessions help patients confront the emotional and psychological factors contributing to their addiction.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to teach individuals coping strategies and develop healthier thought patterns. It helps patients understand their triggers and find healthier ways to deal with stress, trauma, and pain.

Holistic Therapies

Holistic therapies are increasingly integrated into opiate addiction treatment to address the mind-body-spirit connection. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and mindfulness practices can aid in managing cravings, reducing stress, and promoting overall well-being.

These therapies help individuals restore balance in their lives and develop a sense of inner peace, which is essential for long-term recovery.

Support Groups

Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery, provide a sense of community and camaraderie for those in recovery. These groups offer a platform for individuals to share their experiences, challenges, and successes.

Participants gain valuable insights and motivation from peers who have faced similar struggles. Support groups encourage accountability and offer a lifeline for individuals during the challenging journey to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are some signs that someone has an opioid addiction?

Signs of opioid abuse may include increased tolerance, withdrawal symptoms when not using, neglecting responsibilities, social withdrawal, secretive behavior, cravings, and using opioid medicines despite negative consequences.
If you or someone you know shows these signs, seek help from medical professionals.

What are the most common signs of opioid dependence?

Common signs of opioid dependence include a strong urge to use opioids, tolerance requiring higher doses for the same effect, withdrawal symptoms when not using, spending excessive time obtaining or using opioids, neglecting other aspects of life, and unsuccessful attempts to quit or cut down opioid use.

What signs are prevalent in a new opiate user?

Signs of new opiate use may include constricted pupils, drowsiness, nodding off, slow or shallow breathing, euphoria, slurred speech, and impaired coordination. Your friend and family member may also exhibit track marks from intravenous use, social withdrawal, and increased drowsiness.
Early detection and intervention from health care providers are crucial for their safety.