Signs of Opioid Addiction and When Opioid Addiction Treatment is Needed
Not all addiction looks the same. When it comes to identifying signs of opioid addiction, it can be hard to know what to look for.
The symptoms range from physical changes or dependency to mental and behavioral challenges. Whether you’re struggling with opioid use or fear a loved one is battling opioid use disorder, the first step is learning to recognize the signs of addiction.
The challenge behind identifying opioid addiction in some scenarios is that your loved one isn’t always buying and using illicit drugs. In many cases, opioid use disorder begins with a doctor’s prescription and a growing dependency on the prescribed medicine. However, obtaining the opioids legally doesn’t make dependency any less dangerous. Whether the drugs come from a stranger or a well-educated medical professional, the warning signs look the same.
What are Opioids?
Opioids cover a wide range of drugs, including prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and more. Opioids also include illegal drugs, such as heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Opioids eliminate discomfort by reducing the number of pain signals sent to the brain. The drugs also alter how your brain responds to pain. Opioids are highly addictive, ultimately making your body and brain feel the drugs are necessary to survive.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports more than 2 million Americans abuse opioids and that more than 90 Americans die by opioid overdose every day, on average.
In 2016, more than 20,000 deaths in the United States were caused by an overdose of prescription opioids. Another 13,000 deaths resulted from a heroin overdose, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in U.S. adults under age 50. Opioids account for more than half of all drug overdose deaths.
Artificial endorphins are created when you take opioids. These artificial endorphins block pain and create the "feel-good" sensation. Too much opioid causes your brain to become dependent on artificial endorphins. Over time, constant use of opioids can make it impossible for your body to create natural endorphins, sparking the need for stronger drugs.
Physical Signs of Opioid Addiction
The physical signs of opioid addiction may be the easiest to recognize. Often, those battling an opioid use disorder are unable to control their drug use. Whether it’s swallowing pills or injecting heroin, constant opioid use is the first sign of a disorder. Other physical symptoms you may notice include:
- Sleeping more or less
- Weight loss
- Constant flu-like symptoms
- Poor personal hygiene
- Changes in physical activity
It’s unlikely that you’ll see only physical changes in someone with opioid use disorder. Mental and behavioral changes can be just as drastic.
Mental Changes in Opioid Addiction
Opioid abuse has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders. Research performed by St. Louis University revealed that 10 percent of over 100,000 patients prescribed opioids developed depression after using the medications for over a month.
Opioid prescriptions reached an all-time high in 2012 at a prescribing rate of 81.3 prescriptions per 100 persons. Although 2017 saw a much lower number at 58.7 prescriptions per 100 people, in 16 percent of U.S. counties, there were enough opioid prescriptions dispensed for every person to have one.
Turning to Illicit Opioids
When patients are no longer able to get or afford prescription opioids, they often turn to heroin.
Experts estimate 48 percent of people dependent on heroin will also experience depression. Because opioid use disorder and depression often go hand-in-hand, dual diagnosis treatment is essential in overcoming the dependency. Pairing depression treatment with opioid addiction treatment will give you or your loved one the best opportunity for long-term sobriety.
Behavioral Changes in Opioid Addiction
Behavioral changes will accompany the physical and mental signs of opioid addiction. Opioid use disorder patients will often isolate themselves from family or friends. In an attempt to hide their behavior, the opioid user will spend more time with others suffering from opioid use disorder and see loved ones less frequently.
In many cases, a sign of opioid addiction involves the person stealing from family, friends, or businesses. To feed their mental and physical needs for more opioids, the user will develop financial difficulties by not paying bills and bypassing other financial responsibilities.
When It's Time for Opioid Addiction Treatment
If you fear you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of opioid addiction, the most crucial step is to seek help.
Finding a supportive facility or team will be the difference between a long, sober life or continuing the battle with opioid dependency.
Clear Life Recovery is a Southern California addiction treatment facility that creates a custom plan for each patient we serve. For some, dual diagnosis treatment is necessary, but for others, a modern non-12-step recovery center will offer the support needed to break the opioid use disorder.
Contact Clear Life Recovery, Opioid Rehab in California
The Clear Life Recovery staff is experienced in creating custom treatment plans for patients battling an opioid use disorder. Contact our team today to learn more about treatment options.