Navigating Life & COVID-19  

Signs & Symptoms

Understanding the potential downsides and dangers of opioids can help you and the people you care about prevent, recognize, and respond to opioid misuse and safely use opioids as prescribed.

Note: These signs can be easy to miss at first and do not necessarily mean someone is misusing opioids or addicted. But they are signals that may indicate a problem.

Know the signs of opioid misuse and addiction The signs can be easy to miss at first. Here’s what to watch for over time:
  • Noticeable elation/euphoria
  • Marked sedation/drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slowed breathing
  • Intermittent nodding off, or loss of consciousness
How to respond to opioid misuse and addiction

Talk about it. Start the conversation with someone you’re worried about, don’t wait for them to come to you.

Get tips from our free brochure. You can download and print it.

Learn about talking to teens and preteens at the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family.

Carry naloxone to reverse an overdose and save a life. The drug naloxone (brand name Narcan®) is used in an emergency to prevent an opioid overdose from becoming fatal. Learn how.

Encourage people to get support. If someone you care about is worried about their opioid use—or any substance including alcohol—suggest that they talk to their doctor or learn more about treatment options.

Call 911 immediately and administer naloxone if you believe someone may have overdosed.

Know the signs of opioid overdose Spotting an opioid overdose can help save a life. Look for a combination of these signs:
  • Very small, pinpoint pupils
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Falling asleep or loss of consciousness
  • Limp, unresponsive body
  • Choking or gurgling sounds
  • Pale or cold skin

How to respond to an opioid overdose

Most opioid overdoses occur at home, knowing how and when to act can make all the difference
Call 911 immediately!

A fatal overdose can happen in minutes. Try to keep the person alert. Lay the person on his or her left side to prevent choking. Administer a dose of the rescue medicine naloxone, per package instructions (if you have it).

Good Samaritan Law

Arizona is a Good Samaritan state. That means you won’t be prosecuted for a drug crime for helping someone, even if there are illegal drugs where you are.

Learn more

Download our flyer on how to recognize and reverse an opioid overdose.

Safety guidelines Safety guidelines if you are prescribed opioids

Do not take more medication than prescribed. Anyone who takes more than what was prescribed or more than the body can safely handle risks an overdose—with illegal drugs or prescribed medication.

Be honest with your doctor. Your doctor should know about any alcohol or medications you are consuming. They should also know when you started to use them, and how much you take.

Learn about other pain management options. Ask your doctor about other options for pain management.

Don’t share medications with anyone. Sharing drugs can be dangerous. Something in another person’s drug, or their dosage, might cause a reaction in you. And, you don’t know if someone else might have a negative reaction to your medications.

Know that opioids can be addictive after just five days. Once you are dependent, your tolerance level goes up. This means you need more of the drug to get the same effect as when you were taking less. That’s how the effects of misuse begin.

Stop taking your opioids if you don’t need them. You don’t need to “finish off” your opioid prescription the way you do with medications like antibiotics. Talk to your doctor about how long to take prescription opioids or any other medication.

Safe and easy drug disposal

Turn in your old or unused drugs

Once you’ve stopped taking a prescription opioid, remove it from your home. But, don’t just throw it away–there is a proper way to dispose of medications safely. Don’t just toss unused drugs in the trash or dump prescriptions down the drain. To prevent visitors, children, and pets from having access, turn in your unused or expired prescriptions at a drug take-back kiosk.

Walgreens Safe Medication Disposal Program offers kiosks statewide – see the map here. The Arizona Crime Prevention Association maintains a list of other safe disposal locations. Click here for more information.



Learn More About Opioids
Treatment & Resources Learn more
About Opioids Learn more
Facts & Risk Factors Learn more

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