According to the CDC, opioid abuse is the number-one cause of preventable death among 18 to 35-year-olds. In fact, the opioid crisis currently claims 115 lives each day due to overdose, leaving countless family members and friends devastated in its wake.
As this epidemic continues to affect Americans young and old, measures must be taken to further understand the reasons that people turn to opioids, the various forms these drugs can take and the visible and invisible signs of their abuse.
If you find that you or a loved one has struggled with opioid abuse, no matter the duration of time they were used, it’s important to seek the proper treatment program — after all, recovery from opioid abuse is possible.
Different types of opioid drugs
Opioids come in a variety of forms — some are naturally-occurring, some are synthetically made and some are a combination of the two. Certain opioids are entirely illegal by law, while others are available via a doctor’s prescription.
One of the most popular opioids, this drug is naturally-occurring but illegal, as it is highly addictive. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected, and, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 23 percent of those who use heroin become addicted to it.
Many prescription drugs contain some form of an opioid-based ingredient. These can include naturally-occurring drugs, such as codeine, morphine and methadone, as well as synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
Although many of these drugs are generally safe when prescribed properly and taken as directed over small periods of time, if they are taken in larger doses than what was prescribed or used for longer periods than intended, young adults can easily become addicted to them.
Although certain synthetic drugs like fentanyl are found in some prescription medications, others, such as pethidine or methadone, are also used recreationally. These drugs have been made in a lab and are often found to be impure substances — that is, substances that have been mixed with fillers to create a different batch every time.
What causes opioid addiction?
No one thing causes opioid addiction, but a number of factors in individuals lives can influence whether or not an addiction is likely to occur.
One of the most common ways young adults become addicted to opioids is through prescription pain management. If they take medications that include oxycodone, hydrocodone or another addictive ingredient and do not take it as prescribed, addiction can occur after a period of time.
While young adults can be prescribed these medications on their own in some cases, they may also get them from a friend or family member if they have a medical condition they want to address or want a cheaper alternative to street drugs.
Mental health concerns
If young adults experience anxiety or another mental health issue, they may turn to opioids in an attempt to cope with their symptoms. Certain addictive medications can address this, but some may turn to more illicit drugs if they are unable to access a proper prescription.
For young adults who struggle with self-acceptance or surround themselves with friends who try or take drugs, they may find themselves doing the same to fit in. What begins as casual, sporadic drug use can quickly spiral into full-blown addiction as the person begins using more frequently or taking large doses.
Signs of opioid addiction
If young adults find themselves unable to stop using opioids, either those prescribed or illicit, they will find themselves struggling with an opioid use disorder. Although the symptoms of their addiction may take a while to present themselves to those around them, there are several common opioid addiction symptoms that may indicate to their loved ones that a problem is present.
Some physical signs of opioid addiction include:
Some psychological signs of opioid addiction include:
Depression or anxiety
Sudden mood swings
Those struggling with opioid addiction exhibit behavioral changes such as:
Being more impulsive when making decisions
- Withdrawing from social and familial groups
Engaging in risk behavior
You may notice a few or many of these signs, and if you do, it might be time to have a conversation with your loved one about any concerns you have for their wellbeing.
Signs of an opioid overdose
If you know someone who is struggling with opioid addiction, you may witness an overdose if they take too much of a substance at one time or combine opioids with other substances.
Some common signs of an overdose include:
Shallow, slow breathing
Constricted, “pinpoint pupils”
Choking or gurgling sounds
Pale, blue, or cold skin
Limp or unconsciousness body
In the event of an opioid overdose, you should call 911 immediately. Administer naloxone, if possible and attempt to keep the person conscious. Lay them on their side to prevent choking and stay with the person until help arrives.
Addressing opioid addiction in Pennsylvania
Overcoming an opioid addiction may seem like an insurmountable task, but recovery is possible with the right treatment program.
If you’re ready, treatment can help guide you through each step of the recovery process with a high level of support and encouragement along the way. We encourage you to learn more about opioid addiction treatments at Silvermist Recovery Center in Pennsylvania.
Contact us today to learn more.