Top 8 Signs of Opioid Addiction You Should Look Out For in Your Loved Ones
Is your loved one going through a tough time and turned to opioids for solace? Signs of opioid addiction can be difficult to tell, especially during the early stages. If your once jovial friend is exhibiting severe mood swings or has stopped communicating, chances are they are turning to drugs more often than they need to. Even if you cannot pinpoint anything specific, go with your gut feeling and speak up. Your intervention can save a life.
What Causes Opioid Addiction
Opioids alter our brain chemistry by creating artificial endorphins. These should make us feel good, but if we are dependent on the drug, our brain can get addicted. Once that happens, it stops making its own endorphins. As you remain dependent on the opioids, you can develop a drug intolerance and need more.
A drug tolerance manifests when we get used to the effects of medication. When this happens, we need higher doses to get the same effect that a healthy dose is supposed to give. Your health will suffer when that happens since our body cannot take that excess amount. With time, opioids can make you believe you need the drugs to survive.
Top Signs of Opioid Addiction
Addiction takes hold of the mind in complex ways so no two addicts are completely alike. Here are some of the top signs of opioid addiction you should look out for:
1. An Increase in Drug Dependency
As mentioned before, anyone who takes opioids regularly comes to depend on them even if the pain or discomfort it treated has passed. That is why doctors ask patients to wean off such medication gradually and as soon as they start to work. Patients suffering from chronic diseases or those undergoing palliative care should be monitored carefully. Since their dosages are long-term, they are susceptible to addictions.
2. Noticeable Physical Changes
As opioid addiction progresses, it makes addicts husks of their former selves. Exercise, socialization and hygiene are the first to go. If your friend or any loved one has become unrecognizable or exhibiting severe mood swings, chances are they are addicted. The condition can also weaken the immune system and make them vulnerable to deadly diseases. That is why individuals who are addicted to opioids usually look tired or sick.
3. Relationships Go Down the Drain
Naturally, when an individual becomes a mere husk of their former self, relationships suffer. The drug dependent individual may retreat from friends and family or refuse to go out except to get food or their medication. They may also show less interest in activities they used to enjoy and make excuses to avoid meeting. Depending on the circumstances, their circle of friends may diminish as they turn in on themselves. A reduced libido can also have a negative impact on their romantic relationships as it causes frustration.
4. Overdosing Frequently
Prescription medicines such as pain killers are short fix solutions, but they can worsen the ailment they are supposed to treat if they are taken in larger quantities. Typically, people don’t need opioids for more than three days. Some doctors may prescribe it for a week in rare cases.
That is enough time to for the medication to do its job. However, the effects can be highly addictive. No one likes to be in pain, after all. So if you see someone taking more than their prescription recommends, they are probably addicted.
5. Failed Attempts at Curbing Substance Abuse
Quitting an opioid addiction without professional medical intervention, is easier said than done. Even if someone wants to quit, the drugs have taken over their mind so much at that point that letting go is a struggle. If they do so without help or support, brutal withdrawal symptoms can make them turn back to opioids for comfort.
6. More Time Spent On Using, Acquiring and Recovering From Drugs
Opioid addicts have tunnel vision when it comes to their doses. Even if their opioids are taken away from them, addicts will try and search for over-the-counter medication or street drugs that can give them the same or similar high. Since pills are more expensive, most turn to cheaper heroin. Intervene before that happens or you may lose your loved one.
7. An Increase in Cravings or the Urge to Use a Substance
Even if addicts are aware that the opioids they are using are harmful for them, they rarely seek help or try to stop. The medication alters brain chemistry and makes it seek more drugs irrespective of their outcomes. In other words, addicts cannot think straight when they are on opioids so they cannot help but turn to them when a craving hits. When the time between doses shortens, that’s when they are in danger.
8. Unable To Fulfil Work, School or Family Obligations
Opioids can disrupt sleep patterns as most have a sedative effect. If your friend is addicted to the medication, chances are they are usually groggy or ‘out of it’ most of the time. If that condition is preventing them from fulfilling essential personal, family, work or academic obligations, an intervention is called for.
Most of the time, addicts are not even aware that they have an addiction. They think their cravings are normal. Family and friends can prove invaluable at this point. They are the ones who see the effects of opioid addiction with an unclouded mind, after all.
Contact Mat Texas Before Staging An Intervention
At Mat Texas, we provide the gold standard for opioid addiction treatment. Our compassionate and dedicated physicians can discuss the effects of medication that we use to alleviate the physical suffering that your loved one is going through and how they can help. This includes a complete treatment plan that includes medication management that can eliminate withdrawal symptoms and bring brain chemistry back into balance.
Our trained and licensed counselors and physicians are always on call to help anyone who is addicted to opioids whether they are aware of the addiction or not. Besides counseling sessions, we also provide resources that can extend care beyond medical interventions. This includes basic housing, transportation and even healthcare that can help individuals get back on their feet and become healthier.