Opioid Addiction and Methadone as a Treatment Option

7 Unique Ways On How To Tell if Someone Is High On Opiates

signs of being high on drugs

Opiates are extremely addictive drugs that can cause restlessness, muscle pain, mood problems, insomnia, and even death if overused.

Nearly 12 million people in the US use opiates for non-medical reasons. Among them, 2.1 million are opiates addicts.

Are you wondering how to tell if someone is high on opiates?

Most people think that one cannot be able to tell when someone is high on opiates. But that’s not true. There are unique signs that someone is using opiates. Read on to discover the warning signs.

How to Tell If Someone Is High on Opiates

It’s quite hard to know if a close friend or a family member is abusing opiates. Here are a few unique ways to tell if a person is addicted to opiates.

1. Looking at a Person’s Appearance

It’s important to learn how to tell if someone is on drugs by looking at them.

If someone is high on opiates, they’ll appear tired or sleepy. They’ll also have constricted pupils. Despite being sleepy, the person will still want to continue with a conversation and will speak in a slurred voice.

Their eyes may be red and glazed. The opiates addict may also appear confused and forgetful.

A person who’s high on opiates will also have less control of their body. For this reason, if a loved one demonstrates poor balance or clumsiness, this could be a sign that they are opiate addicts.

You should also note that nosebleeds can occur when opiates are sniffed or snorted.

Therefore, if a person nosebleeds a lot or has rashes around the nose and mouth, this may be a sign that they abuse opiates.

You should also learn about opiate detox and take the necessary measures to help the addict.

2. Unusual Smells

If a person is abusing opiates, their skin, clothing, or breath may have an unusual smell.

The unusual smell is as a result of chemical interaction between the compounds found in opiates and the person’s body. If a person smokes the drug, this can also cause the foul smell.

You should note that the person abusing opiates is unlikely to notice the unusual smell.

3. Sudden Weight Loss and Changes in Sleep Patterns

Sudden weight loss or changes in sleep patterns are also signs of opiate use in adults.

Most opiate addicts also have reduced appetite. If someone has abrupt changes in their appetite, this could be a sign that they’re battling opiate addition.

It’s also important to look at their weight. Sudden weight loss is a symptom of opiate addiction.

If a person goes for days without sleeping or sleeps for long periods of time, this is a symptom of opiate addiction.

4. Injuries

When looking for signs of opiate use, ensure you look for excessive injuries. As we mentioned, opiate addicts have less control of their body. This may cause injuries.

If you notice mild cuts, bruises, or any other unexplained injury, this could be an indication that the person is an opiate addict.

The person may not remember how they got the injuries or may become defensive when you ask about the injuries.

5. Involuntary Movements

An opiate addict may have difficulty forming words and controlling movements. As a result, you may notice involuntary movements such as tremors.

The person may also have difficulty holding things such as pens and cups.

6. Poor Personal Hygiene

Opiates make addicts forgetful. This may cause an opiate addict to forget their personal hygiene needs such as grooming hair, changing into clean clothes, and taking showers.

The person may also spend lots of hours doing other cleaning activities, despite the lack of personal hygiene.

7. If a Person Can’t Explain How They Use Their Money

Opiates addicts spend almost all their money on the drugs. If a person can’t explain how they spend their money, they may be spending it on opiates.

Someone who is addicted to opiates may also steal to satisfy their craving. If you find yourself missing items of high value, this could be a sign that you are living with a person who is addicted to drugs.

Here are more signs of opiate use:

  • Change in a person’s social circle,
  • Increased level of secrecy,
  • Early refills

If you have a loved one or a friend whose opiate addiction is obvious, you should do something to help.

How Can You Help?

Well, we’ve come up with steps that you should follow. But before we give you the steps, ensure you take some time and study a few things about opiates so you can know how to help the addict.

This will help make the fight against opiates addition easy and successful.

Step 1: Ask Them If They’re Addicted to Opiates

If you notice obvious signs of opiates use, ask the person if they’re addicted to opiates or not. Be respectful and use kind words that will not offend the person.

Don’t call the person a junkie!

The word ‘junkie’ is incredibly disrespectful and insensitive. If you’re respectful and you express your willingness to help, they’ll tell you if they are addicted or not.

If the person admits that they abuse opiates, move to the next step.

Step 2: Ask Them What They Are Doing to Fight Addiction

Before you give your opinion, ask them what they’re doing to fight addiction. This will show that you care and you trust them.

You should, however, avoid being too nice. This might not help; it’ll make the situation worse. Use the “tough love” approach. This will show them that you love them but don’t like their addiction.

After they’ve told you what they’re doing to fight their addiction, move to the next step.

Step 3: Tell Them How You Can Help Them

Tell the person you’re ready to help and explain how you can help them. You should also keep reminding them that they’re not alone and you’re there to help.

This will help them open up and trust you more.

Step 4: Seek Support from Professionals

Seek support from a qualified expert. It can be a therapist or support groups.

Qualified professionals will guide the person and will help them recover from addiction. Once you seek professional help, ensure everything you do encourages change in the opiates addict.

Tip: If you want to help an opiates addict don’t engage in negative enabling. What is negative enabling? This is a term that refers to the act of giving a person addicted to opiates resources to maintain their lifestyle and addiction.


Opiate addiction results in serious health issues. Thankfully, you can tell if a loved one is abusing opiates. Make sure you learn how to tell if someone is high on opiates.

If a family member or a friend is addicted to opiates, ensure you follow the steps we’ve discussed to help them.

Remember to visit our website for informative articles about the benefits and risks of various drugs.



National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2016/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse

What is an Opiate Detox Timeline? | Methadone Near Me. (2018, March 23). Retrieved from https://methadonenearme.com/methadone-maintenance/what-is-an-opiate-detox-timeline

Morley JE , et al. (n.d.). Opioid modulation of appetite. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6136016

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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