In the 1990s, medical professionals began prescribing opioid pain relievers(opens in a new tab). They were reassured that the drug was not addictive, so they prescribed it at an even higher rate. This led to the widespread misuse of these drugs before it became clear that they were highly addictive. Today, it is often the abuse of these prescribed medications that can lead to opioid addiction.
It can be difficult to watch someone you love struggle with opioid abuse. While the early signs of any addiction can be hard to spot, there are some signs your loved one may exhibit.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids (opens in a new tab)are a class of drug that comes from the opium poppy plant and has various effects on the brain, one of which is to relieve pain. Some are prescription drugs, whereas some are referred to as “street drugs.”
Some prescription opioids include:
- Oxycontin - A strong prescription opioid medicine used for severe pain when other pain treatments do not treat your pain well enough, or you cannot tolerate them.
- Vicodin - A combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone (an opioid pain medication).
Some “street drug” opioids include:
- Heroin - A highly addictive analgesic drug derived from morphine that produces a euphoric effect.
- Fentanyl (opens in a new tab)- A powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.
Opioid Use Disorder
Opioid use and addiction can be diagnosed as an opioid use disorder in an individual. Regular use of opioids can increase your tolerance which makes you require higher doses and frequency, which in turn can lead to addiction. Many who struggle with opioid addiction either begin taking them as a prescription, then continue use after the duration of their prescription or begin using them recreationally. When people misuse opioids, it can lead to developing a dependency or addiction(opens in a new tab).
Signs That Your Loved One is Abusing Opioids
There are significant changes in behavior that could show your loved one has been abusing opioids. These signs are not apparent at first, but eventually, the addiction will lead to more serious problems and obvious changes in behavior.
Some of these behavioral signs(opens in a new tab) are:
- Using opioids “just in case” - Some people abusing their prescription opioids may take them even when they aren’t in pain, saying they’re taking them “just in case.”
- Borrowing or “losing” medication - People who are abusing opioids may borrow medications from other people, or claim to have lost their medication to get another prescription.
- Mood changes - Many people may exhibit excessive mood swings, switching from elation to hostility
- Sudden financial problems - Many may experience new financial difficulties as they spend money on opioids, as well as making other poor financial decisions.
- Poor decision making - Someone abusing opioids may start doing things out of character of his or her typical behavior, including ones that put themselves or others in danger.
- Frequent flu-like symptoms - When someone is dependent on opioids, withdrawal symptoms can occur in the first 24 hours of them not using the drug. These symptoms manifest as flu-like symptoms and gradually become more severe.
- Stealing from family or friends - Someone who is abusing opioids may begin to steal from others to get money to fund the addiction.
- Isolation from family and friends - Opioid abuse disorder is often associated with feelings of social isolation.
What to Do If Your Loved One Is Abusing Opioids
No one wants to see their loved one struggling, but there are steps you can take to help them. Gateway Rehabilitation Center offers withdrawal management, inpatient, outpatient, extended care, telehealth, and recovery-supportive services for those struggling with addiction.
It’s important that your loved ones know they have your support. Gateway offers substance abuse family programs to help you be with your loved one every step of their recovery, and help your family heal from the impact of opioid abuse.
At Gateway Rehab, our priority is to guide patients toward a life of sustained recovery. Our team recognizes that not every patient shares the same path to sobriety, and that is why we customize treatment options that address each individual’s personal needs and goals. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with opioid addiction, we are here to help. Schedule your first appointment with one of our recovery centers today or call 1-800-472-1177 for more information.