Person supporting another person.

By: Pinelands Recovery Center Contributor   |  Pinelands


If you’re concerned that someone close to you is using heroin or another opioid, you have good reason to take it seriously. Opioids are among the most dangerous drugs in the world and their prolonged abuse can put a person at serious risk for irreversible damage, overdose and death. To help your loved one through this challenge, learn to watch for the signs of an ongoing opioid addiction, be prepared to stage an intervention and determine where you can turn for professional help.

The Signs of Opioid Addiction

Opioids begin to affect a person’s mind from first use. As the urge increases, you may witness your loved one acting less like themself. Your loved one may become emotionally closed off or difficult to communicate with; you may get the sense that they’re hiding something or that you’re not as close as you used to be. You may witness mood swings, overt hostility and other rapid changes in personality at times. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to consult a professional.

The psychological effects of addiction can cause your loved one to seemingly float through life in a constant state of slight confusion or dissociation. They are likely to become detached from work, school, projects, hobbies, family and relationships. Dropping out of obligations or activities, falling out with their friend group, spending time with people you don’t know as well and actively choosing isolation are potential warning signs of addiction. Take note, as well, of any unusual financial activities. Opioids can be expensive. Some users may end up changing their approach to work, taking on another job, cutting back on other expenses (like food or bills) or obtaining funding through other means.

There are also physical signs to look for: sudden or seemingly sporadic weight change, bloodshot eyes with pinpoint pupils and increased disregard for personal hygiene or appearance. Perhaps the most infamous sign of all is the presence of track marks, or scars left by needles used for injection, especially on the arms. Keep in mind that most people who use opiates don’t begin with injection, as it’s a scarier, more intense method than smoking or snorting. A person will typically only advance to using needles when their addiction begins to overpower their rational fears and you ideally want to stop their habit before it reaches that point.

Staging an Intervention for a Loved One with an Opioid Problem

An intervention is an intentional, planned event in which family, friends and others who care about your loved one will come together to confront them about their addiction and urge them to seek professional help. This is a direct approach that has the potential to lead to conflict, making it clear to your loved one that the situation may be more dire than they think. It may feel like you’re conspiring against the person you love, but you’re not – you’re working to protect them.

Prepare for intervention by speaking with others who care for your loved one to see whether any of them share your concerns. If they do, gather them together and sit your loved one down to take a serious look at their life. The goal of an intervention is not to get your loved one to agree to simply stop using opioids – it’s to get them to agree to seek professional assistance in overcoming addiction for good. Once your loved one admits that they have a problem and have lost control, they can begin to get the help that they need.

Getting Help for a Loved One with an Opioid Addiction

Once your loved one agrees to seek help, you’ll want to be prepared with some options in mind. There are different forms of treatment for opioid addiction. The most direct and effective method is inpatient treatment, in which a patient stays on-site at a recovery facility to safely go through detox and withdrawal and begin the work of their healing process surrounded by professionals. A good treatment program will not judge or shame your loved one – they are there to make a difference. Speak with a recovery center to determine the best form of treatment for your loved one and don’t hesitate to take an active role in making sure everything goes correctly until the moment your loved one walks into treatment.


Nestled in a serene, wooded backdrop, Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford, New Jersey, is truly a destination for healing and recovery. We offer scientifically designed treatment plans for those struggling with a substance use disorder, all supported by a well-rounded group of expert staff members. Our residential treatment caters to adults and young adults, offering personalized therapy as well as small group sessions with peers.


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Disclaimer: Blunovus content is not therapy and is not designed to diagnose or treat any condition you may be experiencing. Please contact a medical or mental health professional for treatment that is specific to your needs.