Watching your local news or checking your social media feed, you’ve probably heard about the opioid epidemic, the nation’s current public health crisis. As death tolls from the crisis continue to rise dramatically every year, this is not an issue to be taken lightly or ignored.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 42,000 people died from an opioid-related overdose in 2016. Nationwide, 45 states have seen a 30% increase in opioid overdose from July 2016 to September 2017.
What Are Opiates?
Commonly prescribed to alleviate severe pain, opiates include prescription pain killers such as oxycodone, dilaudid, codeine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, among others. The illegal street drug heroin is also classified as an opiate. Opiates are highly addictive, and it’s possible to become addicted to them unintentionally.
Signs of Opiate Addiction
As someone begins to abuse their opioid prescription, they will develop a tolerance to the drug. They will need increasingly larger doses to experience the same benefits. As their tolerance grows, they will become physically dependent on the drug; they will experience the unpleasant feeling of withdrawal when they aren’t taking it. If the opiate abuse continues, they will develop a psychological dependence that will cause cravings for the opiates, at which point they are in the throes of opiate addiction. Below are some signs to look out for if you suspect a loved one may be abusing their prescription.
– Drowsiness: Nodding off at inappropriate times, or appearing drowsy or sedated is a sign of physical addiction to opiates
– Change in sleep habits: As a person abuses opiates, they may sleep for longer periods of time. If they’re experiencing withdrawal, they may be unable to sleep.
– Weight loss: Opioid addicts tend to lose weight due to metabolic changes brought on by the drug abuse.
– Mood swings: Irritability, dramatic shifts in mood, or emotional outbursts.
– Social withdrawal: An addict may isolate or socially withdraw. They might also start spending less time with family, and more time with people you don’t know.
– Flu-like symptoms: Opiate withdrawal can cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue.
– Doctor shopping: An opiate addict will go to several doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions. Multiple prescriptions will result in extra pill bottles; an addict may attempt to hide them in the trash.
If you’re concerned that a loved one may be abusing their prescription, speaking to an addiction specialist or health care professional is an important next step. They can provide you with the referrals and direction necessary to ensure that your friend or family member receives the appropriate help as quickly as possible.
Are you or a loved one struggling with opiate addiction and need help? Call me today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.