How to Know When an Opiate User Needs Emergency Help

How to Know When an Opiate User Needs Emergency Help

Emergency help for an opiate user.

When an individual abuses opiates, it can be confusing to know when help is needed. It is clear that an opiate user needs immediate help if he or she suffers an overdose, but help is also needed if the individual suffers from addiction. Opiate addiction is a serious issue as statistics show over 4.3 million Americans have engaged in non-medical use of prescription painkillers in the last month.[1] Professionals have also noted a fourfold increase in the number of deaths resulting from overdose of prescription opiates between 1999 and 2010.[2]

For these reasons, you should not wait to help an opiate user. Whether he or she has had an overdose or suffers from addiction, the key is to get help as soon as possible. The best thing you can do for someone in that situation is get immediate help, either in the form of medical attention for an overdose or addiction treatment. Do not wait until the individual is “ready.” Again, please get help as soon as possible.

How to Identify Opiate Overdose

Opiate overdose is easier to identify when you know the distinct signs of opiate abuse. Some common signs of opiate overdose include breathing problems, dilated pupils, confusion, sleepiness, nausea, and unconsciousness.[3] If any of these signs are present, it is very likely the user has overdosed. If you think someone is suffering from an opiate overdose, call 911 or emergency services immediately and explain the situation.

Have questions about this or opiate addiction? We've helped thousands since 1995 determine what direction they need to go.
Confidential. No judgment. We're here to help.
Send us an Email

How to Help an Opiate Addict

While opiate addiction may not sound as pressing as opiate overdose, someone who is addicted to opiates may be one dose away from an overdose. If an individual is drinking alcohol and using opiates at the same time, overdose is quite common because both substances are depressants. When inhibitions are lowered, it becomes easier to overdose. Don’t shrug off this harmful behavior as nothing. Addiction controls the life of the addict. If you believe someone is addicted to opiates, talk to him or her about drug abuse and ask if things are okay. Don’t be afraid to talk about opiate addiction treatment and about how help is available. If the user is resistant to the conversation, perhaps you should consider staging an intervention. In some intervention models, the user’s family and friends confront him about the addiction. Each friend or family member talks with the user they will not support or enable the addiction any longer, and explain to the addicted individual how the addiction has affected their lives. Interventions often play an important role in getting a user to attend addiction treatment.

Opiate Addiction Treatment

If you would like to learn more about treatment options for opiate addiction, call our toll-free helpline is. Help is available 24 hours a day to answer all questions about opiate addiction treatment. There is no obligation on your part and the only thing that will be asked of you is some basic demographical information and what prompted the call. There is no one-size-fits all form of treatment for substance abuse. Rather, medical professionals craft a specific treatment plan for each individual. We want to help you or your loved one overcome addiction. Call us now and find out how to take the next step in your recovery.


[2] Pain Medications, Heroin, and You. Rubin, Eugene. March 4th 2015.

[3] Opioid Intoxication