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How Do You Know If Someone Is Addicted To Opioids

What Are Some Tips For Patients With Pain Medication

What causes opioid addiction, and why is it so tough to combat? – Mike Davis
  • Do not increase your dosage without consulting your doctor
  • Be aware of potential interactions with other substances, such as alcohol, antihistamines, anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines, and sleep aids
  • Do not sell or give your medications to others, or accept medications from other sources than a pharmacy
  • Tell your doctor about any other drugs you take, including over-the-counter medicines and street drugs
  • Tell your doctor if you have a history of substance abuse, an addictive personality, or are experiencing any of the warning signs of addiction

What Does Opioid Intoxication Look Like Know The Signs

Nearly 1 in 3 Americans knows someone whoâs addicted to opioids or has been in the past, according to a 2018 poll from the American Psychiatric Association. Opioids can be legally prescribed painkillersâsuch as oxycodone or morphineâor illegal street drugs, such as heroin or street fentanyl. About 80% of heroin users began with prescription opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Learning the signs of opioid intoxicationâmeaning someone is high on opioidsâcould be the first step toward helping a loved one whoâs living with opioid addiction.

Signs And Symptoms Of Drug Addiction How To Tell If Someone Needs Help For A Drug Problem

Nzinga Harrison

Understanding the science behind addiction can be complicated. Some people might think that people become addicted if they dont have any willpower or good morals. In actuality, addiction is a complex and chronic brain disease that can affect people from all backgrounds. It can happen to anyone at any age.

Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted because drugs have a different effect on everyone. Some people use drugs experimentally on occasion in a social setting. However, if usage becomes more regular, some people lose the ability to control when and how much they are using. Over time, drugs change behavior and how the brain, body, and mind function. This is how drug addiction, medically known as substance use disorder, develops. These changes can be long-lasting and cause stressful problems like missing work, legal issues, physical health problems, and trouble with family and friends.

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Learn About Opioid Abuse & Addiction

Opioids are a type of drug that have both legal and illicit uses. Natural opioids come from the opium poppy plant, while synthetic opioids are created in labs. In controlled settings, opioids are powerful analgesics, or painkillers. When used recreationally, however, opioids reduce pain, cause sedation, and bring about feelings of euphoria. Morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine are all opioids that are commonly prescribed to treat pain, while heroin is an illegal opioid.

All opioids, even those legally prescribed, have the potential for abuse should they be used at high doses or for a long period of time. Opioids are so powerful because they activate built-in painkilling and reward circuits in the brain. They mimic brain chemicals that are associated with pleasurable feelings and pain reduction. With continued use, a persons craving for the pleasurable feelings brought on by opioids can begin to take over his or her life. Thankfully, help is available for those with an opiates addiction at Keystone Treatment Center.


Get Help For Yourself

Opiate addiction

People with loved ones living with addiction tend to resist this. After all, the person with the drug abuse disorder is the one with the problem, not you. But addiction is ultimately a family disease. Goldman says, Families are dealing with a chronic, debilitating and sometimes lethal disease. Theyll need support and guidance to help them figure out what’s the best plan for them to protect their own mental health and for intervening with their loved one.

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Counseling For Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid use disorder interferes with many aspects of a persons life. Counseling and behavior therapy can help a person address underlying thoughts and behaviors associated with unhealthy opioid use and learn ways to counteract them.

Depending on the treatment center, group therapy, relapse prevention training, vocational and educational services, community-based or family-based support, mental health assessment and other resources may be available to help support continued recovery.

How Should You Store And Dispose Of Opioids To Protect Family Members

If you are taking opioids, you are not the only one in your household who is in danger of misuse, addiction, and overdose. Other members of your household, including children, are also vulnerable. Hereâs how to protect them:

  • Always store opioids in a safe and secure place. Do not leave prescription bottles in the medicine cabinet, and keep the medication away from others, particularly young children. Children sometimes confuse medications with candy and end up swallowing them, which can lead to overdose. Other family members and visitors could also find prescription medications in the house and use them inappropriately.
  • Never share your prescriptions. More than half of people who misuse prescribed opioids get them from a friend or relative, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  • Donât throw unused opioids in the trash. Improper disposal of prescription medicines can lead to other people finding and taking them.

If you have leftover or expired prescription medications, follow these drug disposal tips:

Anesthesiologists are the most highly skilled medical experts in anesthesia care, pain management, and critical care medicine, with the education and training that can mean the difference between life and death.

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Is Opioid Addiction A Disease

Opioid addiction is a type of substance use disorder. Though its cause is not yet fully understood, contributing factors may include how opioids affect an individuals brain as well as family history and environmental and lifestyle factors. Like other diseases, opioid use disorder has specific symptoms and a pattern of progression , and treatments may help bring it under control.

Approaching substance use disorder as a disease is useful in planning effective treatment and reducing the stigma associated with addiction.

Break Free From Addiction With Help From Magnolia Medical Group

9 Signs Someone You Love is Addicted to Opioids (Pain Medications)

Now that you know how to tell if someone has an opiate addiction, it could help if you point them to an effective solution for their problem. If you are in Denver, CO, our specialists at Magnolia Medical Group can help your loved ones detox safely by walking them through all the stages of recovery. Book your spot today and start the journey to break free from opiate dependency.

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Should You Take Opioid Pain Medications

Opioids can make a dramatic difference to people with moderate to severe pain, but they arenât always the right choice. Discuss the necessity of using them with your doctor. If you take them, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. If your pain isn’t related to cancer, talk with your doctor regularly about whether you need to keep taking opioids. If you need to continue taking them, lowering the dose or changing the type of opioid may help prevent problems.

Show Sources


FDA: “Questions and Answers: FDA approves a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy for Extended-Release and Long-Acting Opioid Analgesics.”

American Cancer Society: “Pain Control.”

The Partnership at “Prescription Pain Relievers.”

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Opioid Addiction.”

National Guideline Clearinghouse: “Interagency guideline on opioid dosing for chronic non-cancer pain: an educational aid to improve care and safety with opioid therapy.”

National Institutes of Health: “Drug Interactions of Clinical Importance among the Opioids, Methadone and Buprenorphine, and other Frequently Prescribed Medications: A Review.”

Medline Plus: “Oxycodone,” “Fentanyl,” “Hydrocodone,” “Hydrocodone Combination Products,” “Hydromorphone,” “Methadone.”

Medscape: âFDA Okays Naldemedine for Opioid Constipation.â

Bill McCarberg, MD, president, American Academy of Pain Medicine.

National Cancer Institute: âPain Control.â

Definitions Of Key Terms

dopamine : A neurotransmitter present in brain regions that regulate movement, emotion, motivation, and the feeling of pleasure.

GABA : A neurotransmitter in the brain whose primary function is to inhibit the firing of neurons.

locus ceruleus : A region of the brain that receives and processes sensory signals from all areas of the body involved in arousal and vigilance.

noradrenaline : A neurotransmitter produced in the brain and peripheral nervous system involved in arousal and regulation of blood pressure, sleep, and mood also called norepinephrine.

nucleus accumbens : A structure in the forebrain that plays an important part in dopamine release and stimulant action one of the brains key pleasure centers.

prefrontal cortex : The frontmost part of the brain involved in higher cognitive functions, including foresight and planning.

ventral tegmental area : The group of dopamine-containing neurons that make up a key part of the brain reward system key targets of these neurons include the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex

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Does Stopping Opioids Cause Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have been taking an opioid medicine regularly, for more than a couple of weeks, you can experience temporary withdrawal symptoms if you stop them abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • opioid cravings

If you need to discontinue your opioid medication, your doctor will help you reduce the dosage safely and slowly , so youre less likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will monitor your health during this time.

If youre having trouble managing withdrawal symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medicines to help manage the symptoms.

Watch this video from NPS MedicineWise: Australians talk about taking opioids for pain, effects of opioids and stopping or tapering them.

Causes And Risk Factors For Oxycodone Addiction

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An individuals risk for abusing and becoming addicted to oxycodone or other opioids can be influenced by several factors, including the following:

Genetic: According to the American Psychiatric Association , opioid use disorder has a strong genetic component. Individuals whose parents or siblings have struggled with opioid abuse and addiction have an increased risk of experiencing similar struggles. People who demonstrate certain heritable personality traits, including novelty seeking and impulsivity, may also have a higher than normal likelihood of abusing and becoming depending upon oxycodone or another opioid.

Environmental: Many people who abuse and become addicted to oxycodone are first exposed to the drug when seeking medical treatment. Thus, accidents and other injuries that cause significant pain and require medical care are among the environmental factors that can influence the development of oxycodone addiction.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Family history of mental illness
  • Personal history of substance abuse
  • Medical conditions that are treated with opioids

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How Do You Treat An Opioid Addiction

If your loved one is struggling with an opioid addiction, its important to encourage them to get help. Opioid addiction is typically treated with a combination of therapy and medication.

Therapy can help a person understand and slowly change their addictive behaviors and improve their coping and life skills. Common therapies used to treat addictions are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy :CBT helps a person recognize how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected. It teaches them how to cope with their negative thoughts and feelings.

  • Motivational interviewing: This type of therapy supports motivation to change. It explores and works through a persons conflicting feelings about their substance use.

  • Motivational incentives: This therapy, also known as contingency management, uses positive reinforcement to reward abstinence and other recovery-related behaviors. For example, someone could get a reward for attending treatment and support groups and submitting a drug-free urine or breathalyzer test.

Medications for opioid addiction are also an important part of a treatment plan. Medications can help reduce opioid use, criminal behavior, and the risk of an overdose. They also improve the chance that a person stays in treatment and remains employed.

Some common medications used to treat opioid addiction are:

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Opioid use disorder is a complex disease, and treatment works best when tailored to the individual. There is not a single approach that works well for everyone, and a person may try several therapies before finding the ones that support lasting recovery.

Treatment for opioid use disorder is available from health care professionals and may be provided on an outpatient basis or through a residential program such as a rehabilitation center . Treatment in any of these settings may include use of medications such as methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone, paired with support programs that can help people recover.

Hospital treatment is rare for opioid use disorder alone. People with substance use disorders may go to hospital emergency rooms because they are in crisis due to physical or emotional distress. Most hospitals provide an evaluation and assess the patients primary need, and then connect the patient to treatment. The hospital may admit someone who also has a significant medical problem in addition to the opioid use disorder.

Opioid overdose treatment with naloxone can be used in an emergency situation when a person has taken an overdose of opioid drugs and has stopped breathing or is in danger of stopping breathing. Naloxone flushes the narcotic out of the brains receptors and can reverse the overdose, but it does not address the underlying opioid use disorder as addiction treatment would.

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How Do You Become Addicted To Opioids

Over time, the body gets used to having the drug and feels terrible without it. Withdrawl is like having the flu but much worse, and it can make it hard to stop taking the drug. If a person starts seeking and taking an opioid despite how it is interfering with work, school, or relationships, it is called addiction.

Its important to know that anyone can become addicted to opioids. It doesnt matter where you live or how smart you are. There is no way to predict who is likely to become addicted.

Denial Is A Frequent Symptom Of Addiction

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A person who has a painkiller addiction is likely to be the last person to admit the problem. No matter how many people approach them about the addiction, they may downplay it, avoid a conversion, or change the subject. This is because they are afraid of losing their painkillers. If you are considering staging an intervention and taking someone to a substance abuse treatment program, you need to help them accept the reality of their situation and be willing to do something about it.

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Consider Medication Assisted Therapy For Your Loved One

It is possible to fight drug addiction with drugs. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse , methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are effective for treating opioid-use disorders. MAT decreases opioid use and the risk of death from opioid overdose deaths. Using addiction medicine has also been shown to reduce criminal activity and to help keep people recovering from addiction in treatment.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine recommends MAT as part of a comprehensive recovery treatment plan and provides a treatment guideline for medical professionals who treat opioid-use disorders.

It is not, as families sometimes worry, just replacing one drug addiction with another. The substance abuse programs offered by Zucker and South Oaks Hospital, for example, treat addiction medically, prescribing addiction medication, along with psychosocial counseling and developing coping skills.

Think of it as having a chronic illness that requires medication. You may need to take medication forever for hypertension, but that doesnt mean youre addicted to the medication. The medication doesnt cure the chronic illness either, so even if its under control, you still have the illness and management requires diligence.

Signs And Symptoms Of Opioid Abuse

Symptoms of opiate addiction and abuse will vary tremendously from person to person. Symptoms will depend upon length of addiction, frequency of use, and the level of dependence upon the drugs. Common symptoms of opiate addiction include:

Mood symptoms:

  • Frequent trips to the ER complaining about pain ailments
  • Losing prescriptions for opioids
  • Borrowing or stealing narcotics from friends and family
  • Lying about amount of narcotics used
  • Hiding opiates in various places around the house, car, and office
  • Doctor shopping, or visiting a number of doctors to obtain more prescriptions for opiates
  • Compulsive use and abuse of opiates despite negative consequences
  • Withdrawal symptoms if drug is not available

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You Exhibit The Signs Of Opiate Addiction

The signs of opiate addiction are subtle at first but as the addiction grows more and more of them appear. Some of these signs are:

  • Having to take more of a substance in order to achieve the same effect
  • Craving the drug even though youve just taken it or it is not time for your next dose
  • Focusing only on the acquiring or otherwise trying to find the drug
  • Doctor shopping to get the drug
  • Being anxious when you are about to run out of the drug

These are classic signs of opiate addiction. There are other signs but these are usually the most obvious.

What Causes An Opioid Addiction

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  • Cope with stress

  • Appear cool and interesting to others

Although the estimates vary widely, we know that some portion of people who use opioids will develop an addiction.

An opioid addiction is rarely caused by one single factor. Biological and environmental factors typically both play a role in whether or not a person who uses opioids goes on to develop an addiction:

  • Biological factors refer to a persons genetics, developmental stage, biological sex, and ethnicity. Genetics explain around 40% to 60% of a persons risk of addiction.

  • Environmental factors refer to ones surroundings, such as family, peers, school, and community. People who grow up in relatively poor or traumatic environments or those where drug use is present are usually at greater risk.

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Signs Of Opioid Addiction

A new study from Michigan State University found that, out of 4,600 participants, 32% could not identify the symptoms of prescription drug misuse.

Identifying that someone is high from an opioid can be tougher than spotting someone who’s drunk, or using marijuana. As New York Magazine notes, “theres not necessarily an obvious telltale sign opioids dont leave a scent on clothes.”

And due to the harsh stigma of addiction, especially when it comes to heroin and prescription pills, people who are suffering often work hard to keep their drug use hidden from friends and family.

So how can you tell when someone has an opioid addiction? Here are the most common signs.

Signs someone is misusing opioids

  • Drowsiness, lack of energy
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and social events
  • Increased secrecy
  • Sudden nodding off/loss of consciousness, even when sitting or standing
  • Constricted pupils

The signs aren’t always crystal clear. But by being aware of the risks and tuned into your loved one’s behavior, you’ll already be in a much better position to get involved and offer help, if needed.

Originally published in 2017.

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