Opioids are a group of drugs that doctors commonly prescribe for pain. Beyond just reducing pain though, they also cause the body to release dopamine, a chemical responsible for feelings of pleasure. This makes opioids a highly-addictive substance because the body is easily hooked on the high they provide. Opioid users are always in danger of developing a physical dependence that is hard to break. Awareness of the signs of opioid addiction can help you or a loved one seek prompt care before things spiral out of control.
Signs of Opioid Addiction and Abuse
Before discussing the signs of opioid addiction, let’s define addiction and abuse. Drug abuse occurs when someone regularly uses a drug outside of its prescription instructions. That could mean using too often or taking more than the recommended dose. Abusing opioids does not guarantee that an addiction will follow. However, it is a slippery slope with prolonged drug abuse often leading to addiction.
Opioid addiction then, is the state of being physically dependent on an opioid. If someone with an addiction were to stop using an opioid, they would experience withdrawal symptoms and be unable to function normally. Even though opioid addiction and abuse have different definitions, the signs of opioid addiction and the signs of opioid abuse largely run together.
A few signs of opioid abuse that deserve separate listing include:
- Using a higher dose of an opioid than instructed
- Using an opioid more often than the prescription indicates
- Borrowing painkillers from a family member or friend
- Visiting multiple doctors to acquire more than one of the same prescription
Those signs can also show up in the course of an addiction. Furthermore, a full-blown opioid addiction typically involves some additional signs, such as:
- Changes in appetite or sleep habits
- Mood swings
- Displaying physical signs of being high, like constricted pupils, slurred speech, or uncharacteristic drowsiness
- Social isolation or a shift in friend groups
- Illegal activity, like petty theft, to fund illicit drug use
If multiple signs from either list appear simultaneously, it is a good bet that treatment is needed.
Opioid Addiction Treatment
After the signs of opioid addiction have been identified, treatment becomes the next step. Most opioid addictions are treated using a combination of medications and therapy.
Treatment always begins with a medically-supervised detox. Conducting detox with trained clinicians on hand is critical because opioid withdrawal can be a challenging process involving many uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms range from cramps to fever to depression. Thankfully, opioid withdrawal is not life-threatening. Many times, medications are prescribed to ease withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and help people build up the habit of staying sober.
While detox is necessary for kickstarting recovery, it’s only the first step. On its own, it does not address the underlying causes of an addiction. Simply detoxing and going right back to the same lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. With this in mind, treatment following detox centers on behavioral therapy and ongoing support that helps people uncover and examine what led to their addiction in the first place.
Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction and Cocaine’s Relation to Opioids
Cocaine is distinct from opioids. While it works on the brain in similar ways, it is much more powerful and dangerous than opioids. The unfortunate truth is that opioids often serve as a gateway to harder drugs. Physical dependence easily builds from prolonged opioid use to the point that original doses no longer have much effect.
Sadly, people often end up seeking whatever substance is stronger, cheaper, or more accessible. The result is many opioid abusers end up becoming addicted to heroin or cocaine. The signs of opioid addiction remain useful to a degree for identifying a cocaine habit. In addition, the symptoms of cocaine addiction can be:
- Extreme emotional highs
- Runny nose
- Loss of appetite
Get Help With Opioid Addiction Treatment
Addiction isn’t something that you should live with. Find out more about how to identify and address an opioid or cocaine addiction when you call 833.641.0661.