Physical Signs

opioids on a tableHow do prescription opioids, heroin, and fentanyl affect a person's body? 

Taking just 1 large dose of a prescription drug opioid could cause serious breathing problems that lead to death.

With regular heroin use, tolerance to the drug develops. Once this happens, the abuser must use more heroin to achieve the same intensity.  As higher doses of the drug are used over time, physical dependence and addiction to the drug develop. 

Fentanyl is abused in the same way as heroin, but it is much more potent. Users are often attracted to fentanyl’s strong, euphoric high. The addiction is very strong. Many users constantly seek out the drug to avoid withdrawal.

Learn more about the effects of the drugs below.


Prescription Opioids

  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach)
  • Inability to sleep
  • Constipation
  • Breathing problems


  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression 
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nausea
  • A warm flushing of the skin 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Heavy extremities


  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Urinary retention
  • Pupillary constriction
  • Respiratory depression


Source: Drug Enforcement Administration. Drugs of Abuse, 2017 Edition: A DEA Resource Guide. Accessed June 28, 2017. View here.

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