Lifespan Recovery Center

Identifying the Symptoms of Addiction

Substance abuse disorder is a disease, not a weakness. Having “willpower” is not enough to achieve recovery.

A person has developed tolerance when he or she needs to use more and more of a substance to achieve the same effect. When a person is dependent, it means that stopping or reducing use of a substance brings on the psychological and physical symptoms of withdrawal.

Symptoms of substance use disorder and common behaviors are numerous, and vary depending on the substance being used.

Typical Symptoms of Addiction

Typical symptoms include:
  • Having intense urges for the drug
  • Gradually needing more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Failing to meet family obligations and work responsibilities because of substance use
  • Avoiding social occasions or skipping recreational activities
  • Experiencing withdrawal when you try to stop
  • Using the drug despite the problems it’s causing in your life and relationships
  • Driving or taking other risks, such as having unprotected sex, while under the influence of the drug

Understanding Opioid Addiction

Kirsten Langdon, PhD, of the Lifespan Recovery Center, explains opioid addiction is a chronic medical condition and what to look for if you are concerned a loved one is addicted.

About Misuse of Opioids

Physicians prescribe opioids to relieve pain. When used correctly, they are usually safe. However, they induce feelings of happiness and self-confidence (euphoria), which can make them highly addictive. This makes opioids more likely to be used more often, longer, or at higher doses than prescribed. This leads to tolerance and to withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking the drug. A patient may resort to obtaining the drug (either prescription opioids or other forms such as heroin) illegally.

Common signs and symptoms of opioid addiction include lethargy, slow or shallow breathing, nausea, poor coordination, constipation, and jitteriness. Mental and emotional states are affected and may result in depression, anxiety, irritability or euphoria, or mood swings.

Get Help Immediately

Opioid addiction is life-threatening, and the risk of overdose is always present. If someone shows any of these symptoms, call 911 and get help immediately:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Small pupils
  • Slow, irregular breathing, or cessation of breathing
  • Slow, irregular pulse, or lack of any pulse

Reaching Out for Substance Use Recovery Help

If you or someone you know is misusing a substance, whether prescribed, illegal, or legal (such as alcohol and marijuana), the Lifespan Recovery Center program can help. We will schedule an appointment within 24 to 48 hours after you contact us. For additional information, please call 401-606-8530.

For more information about substance use disorder and overdose prevention, visit Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo’s Overdose Prevention Action Plan website,, which aims to help end the overdose crisis in Rhode Island.

Learn more about the Lifespan Recovery Center