Opioid Addiction Signs And Symptoms
So, what are the signs that someone is addicted to opioids? There are some general signs of addiction, as well as signs and symptoms that are specific to opioid misuse. Consider the signs below.
Increased Dosage of Drugs
When a person has developed an opiate dependence, they may also show a tolerance for these drugs. This means they will need an increased dosage to achieve the same desired effects. If you or someone you love has developed an opioid addiction, chances are that the same dose of drugs will not result in a pleasurable effect, so larger doses will be needed. A person with an addiction to opioids may use large quantities of drugs, simply to ward off withdrawal symptoms, or they may use larger quantities than intended, because they have lost the ability to control their drug use.
Fixation on Drug Use
One of the hallmarks of addiction is continuing to use drugs, even in the face of negative consequences. A person with an opioid addiction may seem to be fixated on drugs, because they spend all of their time, energy, and money seeking and using opioids. Hobbies, family life, and work are likely to fall by the wayside, as a person becomes driven solely by their desire to obtain more drugs. They may even give up activities they once enjoyed, because they are compulsively driven to seek out drugs, while sacrificing all other areas of life.
Strong Opioid Cravings
Repeated use of an opiate can eventually lead to strong drug cravings when a person becomes addicted. People may crave drugs so strongly that they are willing to sacrifice important relationships or forego major responsibilities like going to work or paying bills, because the desire to use opioids supersedes other obligations.
A person who is addicted to opioids will experience unpleasant, and even painful, withdrawal symptoms as these drugs leave their system. If it has been more than a few hours since their last use of opioids, you may notice opioid withdrawal side effects, such as diarrhea and vomiting, sleep disturbances, sweating, runny nose, muscle aches, yawning, and goose bumps on the skin.
Continued Use Despite Health Problems
Unfortunately, once a person becomes addicted to opioids, drug-seeking becomes compulsive because of changes in the brain. This means that people will continue to use drugs, even when it harms their health and wellbeing. If a person is using opioids despite physical or psychological health problems caused by the drugs, this is a clear sign of opioid addiction.
Using in Dangerous Situations
Once an opioid addiction develops, a person may begin to engage in impulsive, or even dangerous, behavior. For instance, they may drive while under the influence of opioids, attempt to care for children while impaired by drugs, or place themselves in dangerous situations, such as traveling to high-crime areas to obtain drugs. While these behaviors appear obviously dangerous to someone without an addiction, a person who is opioid addicted will be willing to sacrifice their safety in order to obtain drugs, because of the negative effects that addiction has on the brain.
What Causes Opioid Addiction?
There is not one single cause of opioid addiction. Instead, it is typically a combination of factors that leads to an addiction to opioids. Research suggests that past substance misuse, untreated mental health issues, being younger in age, and social/family risk factors contribute to the development of opioid addiction. In general, some environmental risk factors that can increase the likelihood of addiction include lack of parental supervision, poverty, connection to peers who misuse substances, and high availability of drugs.
List of Most Addictive Opioids
When people think of opioid addiction, heroin probably comes to mind first, but there are numerous opioid drugs that have addictive properties. In addition to heroin, the following prescription opioid drugs are highly addictive:
Even when taken as prescribed by a doctor, these opioid drugs can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. The risk of opioid addiction increases when people misuse their medication, either by taking larger doses than prescribed, taking the drugs in different ways than intended (such as by injecting or snorting), or obtaining additional doses of the drugs illegally off the streets.
Opioid Addiction Prevention
Prescription opioids have legitimate medical purposes, but when misused, they can lead to addiction. People often wonder, “How can we prevent opioid addiction?” For prevention, it is important to take these medications exactly as prescribed if you require them. If you have a history of addiction, or other risk factors for substance misuse, you may consider asking your doctor about alternative options for treating pain.
If you do choose to take an opioid medication, it is critical that you stay in touch with your doctor regarding any side effects you experience. Do not take more medication than prescribed, and do not ever take an opioid prescription that belongs to someone else.
If you do need opioid medications, be sure that you talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of these medications. In many cases, the risk of addiction is shorter with short-term use and lower doses of the medication.
Opioid Addiction Treatment Options
If you or someone you love is addicted to opioid drugs, the good news is that there are effective treatment options available for opioid misuse. For instance, patients may receive treatment on an inpatient basis, in which they live on-site at a treatment center, or they may choose an outpatient program, which allows them to continue to live at home while attending appointments at an addiction treatment facility.
Within the outpatient level of care, there are less intensive services, as well as intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs, which are highly structured and provide more hours of services.
One treatment option that is widely used for opioid use disorder is MAT. MAT treatment for opioid use involves the use of medications, typically alongside counseling, to treat opioid addiction. Medications commonly used in MAT include Suboxone and naltrexone. These medications can reduce drug cravings and help people to stay committed to recovery while they engage in other therapies, such as individual and group counseling.
With the growth of technology and telehealth, many people can receive treatment through an online medication assisted treatment (MAT) clinic. These clinics provide patients with access to opioid addiction treatment without ever having to leave home.