How To Spot Signs Of Opioid Addiction
Doctors use an 11-point checklist to help determine if a persons opioid use signals a deeper problem. Heres what they look for.
It isnt always easy to tell if a person has an addiction to opioids.
But any strange habits or suspicions should be taken seriously, says Jonathan D. Morrow, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
If youre using more and more of a drug, yet your daily functioning is getting worse instead of better, thats a sign of addiction, Morrow says. If youre using for a longer time than prescribed, thats a warning sign. If youre using it for reasons other than prescribed for example, because youre depressed or anxious or bored, that puts you at really high risk.
Whether an opioid was obtained legally or not, taking it isnt supposed to be satisfying.
If you use opioids for the intended purpose, you ideally should get no high, Morrow says. You get lots of side effects such as nausea and constipation. Its really not pleasant.
Its once you go beyond the amount you need for pain control that you start getting a high.
Opioids cause the brain to release dopamine, which triggers a desire to repeat the drug-taking experience. Taken for too long or in high amounts, they can be highly addictive.
Morrow spoke about the checklist and how it is applied.
Opioid Detox Options & Withdrawal Treatment
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be intensely uncomfortable and in certain situations withdrawal from opioids may be dangerous and even life-threatening.9 The opioid withdrawal timeline varies from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of opioid that was used, how long it was used, and any other drugs that were used.6 Medically managed withdrawal, or detoxification, can help you make it through safely and comfortably.
Can Opioid Addiction Be Prevented Or Avoided
Many people are able to use opioids safely without becoming addicted to them. But their potential for addiction is high. This is especially true if you use them for long-term pain management.
In general, you are more likely to avoid addiction if you can use opioid drugs no longer than a week. Research shows that using them for more than a month can make you dependent on them.
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Early Warning Signs Of Teen Opiate Use
Opioid abuse is becoming increasingly common among teenagers as many are experimenting with drugs they believe to be safe. The fact that opioids are prescribed by doctors can often give teenagers the idea that they are a harmless way to get high.
It is therefore important to be alert to the early warning signs of teen opiate abuse. You might notice that your teenage son or daughter has started to act differently lately, and this could be due to substance abuse.
Look out for mood swings that are out of the ordinary. You might notice that your teenage child goes from being euphoric to drowsy or irritable if this is coupled with slow breathing and constricted pupils, you should be concerned. You may also notice that he or she is acting confused from time to time and that his or her school work is suffering.
If there is no apparent reason for a loss of interest in social activities that were once important to your child, and if he or she has a new circle of friends, it is important to raise your concerns sooner rather than later.
This Was An Issue That My Mother Dealt With Only Through The Medical Establishment
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin saw that addiction does not always mean that the addict ends up on the streets. Instead, her mother would see doctors to get the prescription pills that she needs. Her mother was also struggling with bipolar disorders.
She realized that her mother was sometimes incapacitated at times. She didnât act like her friendâs parents, and appeared very ill. Money was always an issue, as her mother would spend a lot of money on drugs and would not be able to hold onto a job.
As she grew older, she would have to take on household chores. She would also have to lend her mother money.
Many people donât understand that their loved ones are addicted when they are abusing prescription pills. Instead, they think that their loved ones are taking the prescriptions in order to deal with an illness or another medical condition.
When her mother was not abusing her prescription pills, she was fun and a lovely person to be around. And, thatâs the scary truth about addiction. It can strip someone of his or her positive traits.
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S Families Can Take To Help An Opiate Addicted Loved One
Families often feel heartbroken when they find out that a loved one is addicted to opiates. They’re not sure what they can do to help. If that is the situation you’re in right now, there are some steps you can take.
Start by having a conversation with your loved one about the opioid addiction. He or she may have been trying to hide it from you. Get the problem out in the open. Express your concerns and your desires for your family member to get help.
Consider setting up an intervention. These services are available for you through drug rehab facilities. Interventions can be extremely powerful. Your loved one’s friends and family members will be able to come and share their concerns too. You will feel much better having the support of others you love. Also, your loved one is more likely to get professional help afterwards.
Don’t forget to get help for yourself too. It is difficult to live with any type of addict. Living with an addict can put a tremendous amount of strain on you. You may want to join Al-Anon, which is a support group for families of addicts.
You could also consider going to a therapist who specializes in helping families of addicts. Talking about what you’re going through will help you feel better. It will also aid you in coping with the challenges that are yet to come.
Lying About Opiate Use
Addicts will often lie about or cover up their drug use.
Do you know someone who is using opiates and taking more than he or she is prescribed? Have you confronted him about the opiate abuse and been lied to? Frequent lies are a common sign of opiate addiction that can easily be overlooked simply due to an inability to confirm whether the user really is lying or not.
If you suspect that someone isnt being truthful to you about their drug use there are certain things you can do. The Mayo Clinic advises trusting your gut instinct, educating yourself about what kind of drugs are on the market in that time and what their effects are, and getting help from a drug addiction treatment professional.
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Seeking Help For Opiate Addiction In Idaho
If youâve read the information about what an opiate addict looks like and it sounds like you or someone you love, you need to seek professional help immediately.
Northpoint Recovery is located in Boise, Idaho. We are a modern facility that offers 24-hour inpatient care for our residents. We treat opiate addiction along with other substance abuse disorders through individualized treatment plans to meet the unique needs of each person.
Learn About The Causes And Risk Factors For Opiate Addiction
Addiction is a complex disease characterized by patterns of ongoing drug use despite the negative consequences it may have in a persons life. Its believed that addiction is not caused by a single factor, but rather a number of environmental, genetic, and physical factors along with the influence of risk factors. These include:
Genetic: People who have a first-degree relative who struggles with addiction or other mental disorders are at greater risk for developing an addiction. Its worth noting that not all people who become addicts have a family history of addiction.
Physical: Chronic drug use leads to changes in the structure and functioning of the brain, which leads to physical dependence and cravings for the drug. It also causes withdrawal symptoms when the drug use stops or is cut back dramatically.
Environmental: People who are raised in an environment in which addiction was present are at greater risk for developing an addiction later in life. Additionally, those who begin to use drugs and alcohol at younger ages are at greater risk for becoming an addict later in life.
- Male sex men are twice as likely to develop problems with drugs and alcohol
- Peer pressure
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Early Symptoms Of Withdrawal Include:
- Dilated pupils and blurry vision
- Goose bumps
- Nausea and vomiting
As you can see the symptoms of withdrawal are unpleasant and uncomfortable, but they are part of a necessary process to break addiction. Although very unpleasant and painful, symptoms usually begin to improve within 72 hours, and within a week the individual should start to feel regular again. Utilizing a medical professional when using or withdrawing from opiates is highly recommended.
Unfortunately, opiate abuse is more common than we think or we want to admit. It is critically important to know the facts and be aware of warning signs. Dont forget to be supportive of the addict, stay firm and do not enable them to continue using drugs.
What Is Opioid Withdrawal
Opioid withdrawal is what happens when you stop taking opioid drugs after your body has come to rely on them to feel OK. It can affect you in many ways.
Opioids attach to things called receptors on nerve cells in your brain, spinal cord, and other places to block pain messages that your body is sending to your brain. They also trigger your brain to release dopamine, a chemical that makes you feel good.
Prescription opioids are usually safe to use for a short time and as directed by your doctor. If you need to stop taking long-term opioids, talk with your doctor. To do it safely, you need to take less of the drugs slowly over time as a medical team keeps a close watch over you.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Opioid Addiction
There is no direct evidence supporting an individual cause to explain any specific substance abuse disorder. However, research has supported links between certain factors and the subsequent development of substance related problems.
Genetic Factors Family studies have shown that when an individual has a first degree relative with an opioid addiction they are more likely to develop the disorder than those who dont have a similar family history.
Indirect Genetic Influences It appears that some potential causes may function through genetic influences. For example, temperamental qualities, such as novelty seeking and impulsivity, believed to be inborn, have been linked to an increased risk for opioid addiction. Additionally, our nature influences what types of people we choose to be around. Thus, while peers can influence our choices as far as beginning and continuing to use a substance, we decide which peer groups to which we want to belong. Factors such as these are thought to result from an interaction between heredity and environment.
Coping Factors For individuals who have difficulty tolerating negative mood states, due to the failure to learn effective coping mechanisms in childhood and adolescence, when distressed the search for relief may lead to substance use of opioids in particular, due to the pleasant effects that can counteract their negative mood. The resulting surge of euphoria can lead quickly to addiction.
Signs and Symptoms
Odd Items And Paraphernalia Associated With Drugs
Opiates are abused in a variety of ways. There are a number of items that you can be looking out for that allow you to identify drug abuse, such as needles, cotton swabs, old medication bottles with the labels ripped off, or burnt tinfoil. Given the fact that opiates can be swallowed, injected, smoked and snorted, identifying the paraphernalia used in these methods is of the utmost importance.
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Warning Signs And Symptoms That Indicate The Use And Abuse Of Opiates Including Observable Behavioral And Physical Symptoms
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Opiates, which are also commonly called opioids, are a group of drugs that are primarily used to treat pain. They get their name from the opium poppy, from which they are derived. The terms opiates and opioids are used to describe both natural and synthetic medications.
Opiate Addicts Are In Danger Of:
- Having weakened immune systems. This means that their bodies aren’t as able to fight off infection as they once were.
- Having digestion problems that can lead to bowel perforation and other issues.
- Experiencing abscesses or infections if the drugs are being used intravenously.
- Experiencing severe respiratory depression, which can lead to massive organ injuries.
- Having a higher risk of kidney or liver damage.
Long-term drug use weakens the different systems, which can lead to cardiac arrest, stroke and other medical emergencies.
- Bipolar disorder
This is just a short list, but any mental condition can become more complicated with the addition of an addictive drug. The drugs cause neurochemical changes that exacerbate the mental health issue.
A unique characteristic of opiates is the fact that a person can develop a mental health disorder from abusing this type of drug. They may never have experienced severe anxiety or depression until they started abusing the drug. Because opioids alter the chemistry of the brain, they can cause mental health problems to develop.
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Effects Of Opioid Addiction
Opiate addiction can have many consequences on all aspects of an individuals life. Some of these effects include:
- Social problems
- Work problems
- Financial problems
- Adverse health consequences
- History of drug related crimes and incarceration
- Involuntary commitment to a mental hospital
- Death from overdose or suicide
Statistics For Opioid Abuse
Within the last year, two million Americans have used opioids, and ten times that many have used opioids at some point in their lives. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 52 million people in the U.S. have experimented with prescription painkillers. About one-fifth of those who use opioids choose to use heroin, and, unfortunately, about 25 percent of those who use heroin will become addicted.
Causes & Risks
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How Does A Dependence Compare To An Addiction
Dependence does not equal an addiction, however, within an addiction a person will always have a dependence. What this means is, in situations of prescribed us, a person who uses prescription painkillers, even exactly as prescribed, will likely, due to this class of drugs powerful effects, develop a physical dependence. It is when dependence becomes accompanied by compulsive and chronic patterns of drug-seeking and using that an addiction is present.
Again, a person may become dependent by prescribed use, however, it is when a person deviates from this to use, that the risk of addiction rises. Unfortunately, even people with prescriptions for opioid painkillers may become addicted. As a person becomes dependent on a drug, they begin to experience a tolerancethat is, it takes an increasing amount of the drug to achieve the previously desired effect. In either instancein prescribed or illicit use, this junction can be where addiction begins to take hold.
Physical Signs Of Opiate Addiction & Abuse
When people first start using opioids, they may feel itchy when they take them. They may also feel nauseated and may even vomit. Some other signs of opiate use may include constipation and slower reaction times or movements. Because constipation is a symptom of use, it could lead the person to start using laxatives.
- Other Physical Signs of Opiate Addiction & Abuse:
- Dry mouth
- Feeling lightheaded, nausea or vomiting
- Euphoria or extreme happiness
- Sedation, tiredness or sleeping too much
- Nodding off at random times or loss of consciousness
More severe and serious symptoms may start to occur if help is not received. They include:
- Slowed heartbeat
- Dizziness / Drowsiness
- Low blood pressure
With heroin, some of the short-term symptoms of use can include nausea, vomiting, slowed breathing, itching and drowsiness. After someone takes heroin, they will usually get flushed skin, constricted pupils and dry mouth. Skin infections can occur if someone is regularly using heroin by injecting it into his or her veins. Suppression of the immune system can cause an opiate user to become sick more frequently.
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Behavioral Signs Of Opiate Addiction
When an individual is misusing opioids, there can be noticeable changes to their behavior and moods. Each person is different, but some or all of the following signs may be present.
- Noticeable elation or euphoria
- Issues with work, family and friends
- Legal issues, arrests
- Sudden financial problems, seeking quick cash
- Changes in habits or routines
- Using more medication than prescribed
- Doctor shopping or visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for opioids
How To Find Drug Addiction Facilities
Addiction treatment facilities are located nearly everywhere throughout the U.S. to help the country fight its ongoing opioid epidemic. If your friend or loved one is showing signs of addiction, use the Internet to locate nearby drug addiction facilities in your area or the city of your choice. Look specifically for treatment facilities that offer opioid detox medications such as buprenorphine and Suboxone that can effectively reduce and minimize withdrawal symptoms, and help your friend experience a comfortable recovery.
Summer House Detox Center in Miami, Florida offers evidence-based opiate detox programs to help people experience a safe withdrawal and recovery from opiate dependence. Contact us today at 800-719-1090 to learn more about our many customizable drug detox programs.