(Last Updated on January 24, 2023)
When talking about opioid addiction, it’s impossible to name only one cause. They can range from physical pain to psychological motives. In addition, the accessibility of opioids (especially on the black market) is one of the leading reasons for the widespread opioid crisis. However, there are noticeable signs of opioid abuse. Thanks to the following guide our team prepared for you, you’ll know how to help someone that requires professional intervention.
Addiction to opioids shows through several noticeable physical, psychological, and psychosocial symptoms. They often go hand in hand, so it’s not difficult to recognize them. Opioids belong to the list of highly-addictive substances. They provide short-term pain relief and develop dependency at the same time.
Due to highly sedating properties, opioids may significantly impact brain function. Prolonged opioid abuse results in myriad issues, such as:
- Problems with short-term memory.
- Lack of concentration on daily tasks.
- Difficulty in learning new things.
Due to these symptoms, a person abusing opioids often becomes restless and has trouble staying organized. They might also begin to procrastinate on their duty.
#2 Physical symptoms
The following physical symptoms are telling signs a person may suffer from negative signs of opioid abuse:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Impaired motor skills
- Rapid weight loss
Higher dosages of sedatives also adversely affect one’s energy levels. It, therefore, becomes challenging to perform daily chores.
Self-neglect, in general, is a sign of any significant addiction, and individuals with addiction to prescription opioids aren’t an exception. They often struggle to maintain basic hygiene. Patchy skin, greedy hair, teeth staining, and unpleasant body odors are telltale signs that something isn’t right. Sedative properties in opioids make a person too tired to even shower and brush their teeth.
Let’s say a person you know takes painkillers (oxycodone or similar medication) due to sports injury. After a while, they begin to ask for a higher dosage, claiming they’re in pain. Furthermore, they resort to frequent lying about the dosage of a prescribed opioid to their family and doctors. It’s not a rarity for them to ask those with a prescription to get them more medications. If you notice this pattern of behavior in someone you know, it’s time to intervene together with their close family members.
Keep in mind that individuals with a severe addiction to substances turn to the black market. This is mostly because the prices of smuggled or stolen painkillers and tranquilizers are lower than in pharmacies.
If a person already struggles with depression, opioid abuse can exacerbate it. Self-medication among individuals suffering from major depressive disorder is more common than not. By doing so, they wish to escape the daily lethargy, sadness and numb the negative mental chatter.
Anxiety disorder and opioid abuse often go hand in hand. It’s noticeable among individuals with a severe anxiety disorder who resort to self-medication in order to cope with daily challenges. Soon they develop a physical and psychological dependency to the point they can’t imagine going about their day without opioids.
Another sign that a person might have developed a severe addiction to opioids is the change in emotional response. If someone you know acts out of the blue and displays frequent irritability, substance abuse might be the reason. Opioids affect the brain, making it difficult for a person to manage their emotions.
A disrupted sleep schedule is also the outcome of opioid abuse. The person who abuses opioids can have problems with continuous sleepiness and yet feel tired after waking up. The drugs also interfere with REM sleep.
#9 Lifestyle changes
All previously-mentioned symptoms indicate a significant change in lifestyle in a person who abuses opioids. However, if a person used to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, the before and after difference will be a lot clearer.
Once an individual stops using opioids, the withdrawal symptoms begin shortly after. They are often too excruciating to handle, both physiologically and mentally. This is why the best solution is to turn to licensed experts working at specialized rehab facilities. The treatments provided at special rehab centers can help an individual break free from addiction to opioids and change their lives. Opioid rehab involves:
- Special medical detox – The staff at a rehab facility administers it. It frees the body from the substances and prepares the individual for the next stage.
- Specific psychotherapy – If a patient struggles with a co-occurring mental disorder, they will be assigned an addiction psychiatrist to tailor a specific plan. This is called Dual Diagnosis, a successful way of treating addiction to opioids and mental disorders simultaneously. Other methods applied in addiction recovery are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
- Pharmacotherapy – It depends on whether the patient’s condition will be mandatory.
- Aftercare – The last stage of recovery is also the most challenging. The recovering individual must cope with different triggers and bounce back from temptations to start using opioids again. This is why Aftercare treatment helps people navigate the post-rehab period thanks to regular psychotherapy and the application of a relapse prevention strategy.
When you recognize these common signs of opioid abuse, it’s easier to help the person in need.The root cause of every addiction is mainly psychological, which is why the solution is to seek help from addiction experts. Fortunately, today’s rehab centers deploy a variety of medical and supplementary therapies that help those who suffer from opioid addiction establish a new life on a healthier basis.