The opioid crisis has continued on in the states for years on end – because these drugs were prescribed by doctors as viable, medical treatments for pain and post-surgery recovery, they quickly ended up in thousands of households in the states. Unfortunately, this made many highly addictive substances highly accessible to countless people.
While not everyone who has been prescribed an opioid will fall into substance abuse, it’s important to understand the risks associated with opioid consumption and to know the signs of addiction. By educating oneself, you can remain knowledgeable and able to provide help to someone else who may be struggling.
What are opioids?
Opioids are classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as Schedule II drugs, that is, “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous.”
Opioids include, “the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.”
Because of their highly addictive nature, an individual is at risk of addiction after taking opioids for more than five days. For this reason, it’s important to be highly cautious when taking prescription opioids. If you ever have concerns about your prescription, talk to your medical doctor about switching your medication right away.
Signs of opioid addiction
Opioids don’t take long to become addicted to, but it may take longer to identify the signs. The more you know what to look for, the sooner you can get the help you or your loved one needs.
The physical signs
Physical signs will manifest as opioid addiction progresses and can be a beneficial indicator that a problem exists.
Changes in weight
Opioid use can lead to sudden and drastic weight loss, especially in those who use heroin, as the drug can act as an appetite suppressant. This weight loss can also be the result of malnutrition if people using spend their money on drugs rather than food. In certain cases, opioid use can also lead to weight gain as certain drugs, such as prescription medications, can lead to increased sugar intake.
For those who take opioids intravenously, there may be signs of drug use in their bodies. Common signs tend to be puncture wounds, scabs and scars from where needles would enter the skin.
Especially while under the influence of opioids, a person’s coordination can be severely affected. They may seem incapable of maintaining their balance, display poor motor skills and even have slurred or garbled speech.
Changes in appearance
Those under the influence of opioids will most likely show physical changes in addition to weight loss or gain. You may notice a lack of hygiene, as those battling addiction, are less likely to maintain proper care of themselves. You may also notice red, bloodshot eyes, a common side effect of consistent drug use.
Behavioral Effects of Opioid Addiction
Because of the way opioids impact the brain, you are also likely to notice significant changes in one’s behavior when under the influence of opioids.
Whether they want to avoid judgment from those around them or spend more time with other people who use them, those struggling with opioid addiction can often end up isolating themselves from friends or family or seem to go missing for extended periods of time.
Since opioids have such a tolling effect on those addicted to them, individuals may end up lying to their loved ones about their whereabouts or actions. It’s also not uncommon for patients struggling with addiction to mislead their doctors regarding their pain for additional prescriptions or go to multiple doctors for the same drug.
Mood swings and irritability
If a person goes too long without using opioids, they can experience radical mood swings or become increasingly more irritable. This behavior can worsen over time, especially if they go into withdrawal, making it all the more important to get them to help sooner rather than later.
Suffering from withdrawal symptoms
When one becomes addicted, the body must consistently intake the substance in order to avoid going into a state of withdrawal. When withdrawal signs of opioid addiction are noted, it may be time to seek addiction treatment. Common withdrawal signs include:
- Aching muscles
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Rapid heart rate
In order to avoid these symptoms, those struggling with addiction will seek another dose of the drug, getting caught in a repetitive pattern of behavior that is challenging to break on one’s own.
Opioid addiction recovery
Opioid addiction is a brutal experience for one’s brain and body, making it crucial to prevent opioid addiction as much as possible. Preventing addiction includes educating yourself on the drugs, knowing the warning signs and being proactive if/when you’re prescribed an opioid medication. The more knowledgeable you are of the signs, the less likely you will be to fall into misuse.
However, if you or someone you know is battling an opioid addiction, treatment is available and recovery is possible. To get help today, reach out to Silvermist Recovery. contact us today to learn more.