Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if someone is misusing opioids. Because opioids are largely used for pain management and often obtained through a prescription, you may not be able to tell if someone’s use is truthful or not. In some cases, opioids may be needed for long-term pain management, but in other cases, a person may exaggerate symptoms in order to obtain more of the drug.
If you are unsure about which category your loved one may fall into, observing the below symptoms and behaviors may indicate a problem is developing. Opioid abuse does not always evolve from a purposeful misuse of the drug. Sometimes, a person can become dependent on a drug that is prescribed to them. When taken as intended, many will not develop an addiction. It is when a person begins using the drug in ways they were not intended for where issues begin to arise.
Opiate addiction treatment is often required for those who become addicted to opioids. The consequences of opioid addiction are vast and deadly. Therefore, it is important that we spot the signs as early as possible to get those we love the help they need.
Symptoms of Opioid Abuse
Understanding the symptoms of opioid abuse can help you recognize if your loved one may be struggling.
Physical and Behavioral Symptoms
- Sudden or dramatic mood swings
- Impulsive behaviors and decision-making
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Constricted, “pinpoint” pupils
- Needle marks (if injecting the drug)
- Flushed or itchy skin
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
Side Effects of Use
- Impaired judgement
- Blurred vision
- Shallow, slowed breathing
- Weight loss
- Itchy or flushed skin
- Liver damage
- Vein damage (if injecting the drug)
Is Your Loved One Abusing Opioids?
In addition to experiencing a myriad of side effects, many will exhibit behavioral changes that indicate a problem is developing. If opioid use interferes with a person’s ability to manage their daily responsibilities and negatively impacts their relationships, it may be time to consider an intervention. Any of the following behavioral changes can be a cause for concern.
Taking opioids in larger doses or longer than intended: Prescription medication should only be taken as prescribed by the person it is intended for. Painkillers are generally not intended for long-term use and can be highly addictive. Using them in any way other than how they were prescribed can put a person at risk for dependency and addiction.
- Inability to adjust or control use: Even if a person wants to stop using opioids, they may experience great difficulty. There are several factors that can contribute to this, but because opioids are physically and psychologically addictive, suddenly stopping use may feel impossible.
- Spending excessive time obtaining, using, or recovering from opioid use: Misuse turns to addiction in a blink of the eye. Opioid use may cause a person to put everything else in their life on the back burner. If most of a person’s time is centered around opioid use, chances are, a serious problem has developed.
- Experiencing cravings: Even if a person is aware of the consequences of opioid use, they may not be able to stop. Experiencing cravings when not using the drug usually indicates that the person is developing a dependency or addiction to the drug. They continuously seek out more of the drug even if there are negative repercussions.
- Inability to manage responsibilities at work, home, or school: The side effects of opioid abuse can make it nearly impossible to manage all of life’s responsibilities. Becoming sedated, inconsistent sleep patterns, and other side effects can negatively impact a person’s ability to manage other obligations. This may cause a person to lose employment, fail academically, or struggle to maintain the household.
- Opioids begin to cause interpersonal problems: Drug use can cause dramatic personality changes. A person can become more irritable, aggressive, and agitated. They may get into arguments more easily and may become incredibly defensive when asked about their opioid use.
- of interest in activities one once enjoyed: A person may stop showing interest in activities they once enjoyed in favor of using opioids. Opioids begin to take precedence over everything and you may observe a person stops functioning at the same level they used to.
- Continued use despite health repercussions: Opioids can create numerous physical and mental health problems. If there are preexisting conditions, symptoms may be exacerbated by opioid use. Even if the person is aware of the negative health repercussions of use, they may still continue to use opioids.
- Needing larger doses to achieve the same effects: Over time, continued use of opioids no longer produces the same effects. Because the body adjusts to the dosage, they must increase the amount they take in order to achieve the same effects.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms: Even if a person wants to stop using, they may be unable to do so because of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from opioids can produce numerous uncomfortable side effects, making some tempted to keep using just to avoid feeling that way.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid abuse, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.