It may not be easy to tell, especially in the early stages of addiction. Read on to discover the warning signs of opioid use here.
Every day, 128 people in the U.S. die of an opioid overdose. These numbers are tragic because they are also preventable.
While bringing the number to 0 will take a huge collaborative effort between the medical community, policymakers, and communities, individuals can help by learning about the early signs of opioid use and abuse.
Unfortunately, many people find that they become dependent on opioids even when those prescriptions are the best medical-intervention available to them. Stopping dependence early can help save lives and protect families from devastation.
What are the early signs of dependence and abuse? Here’s what every American should know.
The Most Common Signs of Opioid Use and Abuse
Whether your loved one is using opioids to manage cancer pain or chronic pain, it’s important for everyone who knows someone with a prescription to understand the signs of opioid abuse.
Why? Because the addictive properties of opioids don’t kick in based on whether you’re using them legally or illegally.
If you notice someone you love taking opioids in ways that go beyond intended use (for “just in case” reasons, or to feel good), then you need to look out for other more overt signs.
Changes in Personality and Behaviors
Early signs of opioid abuse include changing mood and behaviors. Opioids change a person’s sense of well-being and bring on euphoria. These are normal side effects that anyone who takes the drugs will experience.
If dependence or even addiction sets in, then you’re likely to see personality changes, like depression or mood swings as well as behavioral changes.
Social withdrawal is also common, and it’s not uncommon for people who feel dependent or become addicted to opioids to begin avoiding friends and family.
New Health Issues
Opioid misuse can cause health issues that become apparent even to friends and family.
Often, these show up as fatigue and a chronic lack of energy as well as changes in sleep patterns. But they can also manifest as changes in appearance, lack dramatic changes in weight.
Prescription opioids are expensive in general. However, misusing them also costs a significant amount of money.
If it becomes clear to the doctor that your loved one is dependent, then they may refuse to issue new prescriptions. You may see your loved one seeking out new doctors or pharmacists or even running out of cash because they need to find the medication elsewhere.
Unfortunately, financial difficulties are a common tell of full-blown addiction. If you recognize these behaviors, you may want to seek out the advice of a doctor to learn more about intervention options, like a medication assisted treatment center.
Save Lives by Knowing the Signs
Opioids are highly addictive, and their ability to re-wire the brain into dependency or addiction doesn’t discriminate. If you or someone you love has an opioid prescription, it’s important that both of you recognize the signs of opioid use and abuse. Doing so could save a life.
Are you looking for more ways to stay healthy, both physically and mentally? Visit my Mind + Body archive for more health content.