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signs of opioid addiction

Being able to recognize the signs of opioid addiction can help you or your loved one understand how it affects you and whether you need to seek treatment. Addiction can impact virtually every aspect of your life and may actually be keeping you from living a truly fulfilling life. It is critical that you know the signs of opioid addiction, to determine whether you or a loved one has a substance use issue.

What are Opioids?

The term opioid refers to a group of drugs that are also sometimes called narcotics. Opioids can include strong prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol, as well as the illegal drug heroin. Your physician may give you a prescription opioid to reduce the symptoms of chronic pain, pain after you have had a major injury or surgery, or severe pain from health conditions like cancer. Prescription opioids used for pain relief are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by your health care provider. However, opioid misuse and addiction are still potential risks.

The Opioid Crisis

In 2018, the most recent year for which reliable figures are available, 128 people in the US died every day from an opioid overdose. The misuse and addition to opioids is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. Statistics show that:

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder. 
  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.

Recognizing the Signs in Yourself

When you are addicted to opioids, you may not be able to recognize the substance use disorder in yourself. People who are addicted often make excuses or even deny that they have a problem. There are signs of opioid addiction that are helpful in determining whether you are addicted and need to seek help, including:

  • You want to use the substance on a regular basis. 
  • There’s an urge to use that’s so intense it’s difficult to concentrate on anything else. 
  • You take larger quantities of the substance or prolong substance use for longer periods of time than intended. 
  • As substance use continues, you take larger quantities of the substance to achieve the same effect.
  • You always have a supply of the substance. 
  • Money meant for bills or other necessities is instead spent on the substance. 
  • Excessive amount of time is spent obtaining the substance, using it, and recovering from its effects. 
  • You develop risky behaviors to get the substance, such as stealing or violence. 
  • You engage in risky behaviors while under the influence of the substance, such as driving or having unprotected sex. 
  • The substance is used in spite of the problems it causes or the risk it poses. 
  • You try and fail to stop using the substance. 
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms once you stop using the substance.

Recognizing the Signs in Others

If you suspect that a loved one may have a substance use disorder, watch for their signs of opioid addiction:

  • Personality changes. Your loved one may experience anxiety, depression, irritation, or mood swings.
  • Behavioral changes. These can include acting secretive, aggressive, or violent. 
  • Changes in appearance. Your loved one has small “pinpoint” pupils, lost or gained weight, or developed poor hygiene habits. 
  • Health issues. They may have a lack of energy, fatigue, or chronic illnesses related to drug use. 
  • Social withdrawal. Your loved one may withdraw from friends or family, develop relationship problems, or make new friendships with people who use drugs. 
  • Poor performance at work or school. They may be disinterested or absent from work or school on a regular basis. They may have poor performance reviews or report cards, be expelled, or lose a job. 
  • Money or legal problems. Your loved one may ask for money without a rational explanation or steal money from friends or family. They may get in legal trouble.

Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction

There are often underlying issues behind your opioid addiction. Effective treatment can include therapy to help you discover and uncover those issues. The beginning step in healing your mind, body, and spirit is detoxification, ridding your body of the toxic opioids in your system. Detox should be medically managed and supervised, to guide you through the withdrawal symptoms and help you on your way to a successful, long term recovery.

Opioid Addiction Treatment at Hope by the Sea

At Hope by the Sea, we are much more than “talk therapy.” Our Orange County facility network blends evidence-based treatments, experiential therapies, holistic modalities, and family services to help you overcome your opioid addiction. We provide you with the top clinical staff, a serene setting, and over fifteen years of experience treating addiction to guide you through a successful recovery from your opioid addiction. Please contact Hope By The Sea immediately for assistance. Our team is following every CDC protocol for COVID-19; our clients’ safety is of the utmost importance.