A lot of legally prescribed pain relievers, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, are opioids. They might not look anything like the infamous heroin, but they're equally addictive and exceptionally dangerous when used without following the right prescriptions. As a matter of fact, from 1999 to 2017, over 702,000 people died from a drug overdose, and 68% of those deaths involved prescription or illicit opioids.
What Causes Opioid Abuse?
When opioids are taken repeatedly, it can cause the body to slow down its production of endorphins, the chemicals that help bring about feelings of euphoria. Over time, the person taking it develops a tolerance to the drug which drives some to increase their dosage just so they can keep achieving the same high. If individuals who become addiction run out of their prescription or otherwise can't obtain their drug of choice, this can sometimes lead them to find ways to acquire the drug through illicit means.
Who is at Risk of Opioid Abuse?
Anyone can get addicted to opioids, but there are a few factors that can increase the chances of a person abusing the drug.
People With a History of Addiction to Other Substances
People with a family or personal history of substance addiction have a higher risk of succumbing to opioid addiction.
People With a History of Depression or Anxiety
Depression is one of the reasons why some people take drugs, and opioids, with their euphoric effects, help alleviate depression, albeit temporarily. This is the reason why people who have a history of depression or anxiety are more prone to opioid use and abuse.
People Exposed to High-Risk Individuals
People who are often exposed to other people who are currently using or easily susceptible to using opioids have a higher risk of getting hooked to opioids.
People Exposed to High-Risk Environments
People who are often exposed to environments with a large number of opioid or substance users can be tempted to try out the drug for themselves. This can potentially lead to addiction.
It's often hard to tell if a person is abusing opioids, especially during the early stages, but if you have a hunch or observe something strange about the behavior of a family or friend, and you suspect that it has something to do with opioid addiction, then it's wise to consider taking action. Here are some of the signs of opioid use.
10 Signs of Opioid Abuse
- Inability to Control Opioid Use
Prescription drugs should be taken based on the doctor's prescription in order to ensure the best results, and – in the case of opioids – to prevent addiction. If a relative or friend is using opioids in a way not intended by the doctor who prescribed it — for instance, taking opioids even if he or she isn't experiencing pain — then it could be a sign of dependence.
- Finding Ways to Get More Prescriptions for Additional Supply
Some do this by pretending to lose their prescriptions to borrow other people's opioid prescriptions, trying to get the same prescriptions from different doctors, and other means that will enable them to purchase more of the drug than what's recommended and safe.
- Mood Changes
Quick or repetitive mood swings are another sign of opioid abuse. If your relative or friend is using opioids for medication and is having sudden shifts in mood, especially if he or she is usually mild-mannered, then you might want to consider talking to him or her.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns
Intense drug cravings caused by opioid addiction can adversely affect the quality of sleep. This can result in changes in sleep patterns. Additionally, opioids have biological and chemical reactions that can affect the body.
Opioids can cause various types of sleep problems such as insomnia or difficulty staying asleep or getting restful sleep, parasomnia or abnormal behaviors during sleep that prevents one from getting enough rest, and daytime sleepiness.
- Poor Decision Making
Opioid dependence can cause anxiety, which can lead to decision-making impairments. This can affect not only the person involved but also those who he or she often interacts with. Opioid addiction can drive a person to do questionable things, such as stealing from family or friends or making extreme decisions that can greatly affect his or her life.
- Weight Loss
Opioids can cause a change in a person's metabolism. It can also push one to eat less, and this can result in a sudden, unplanned weight loss.
- Isolation from Family and Friends
Opioid addiction can cause changes in how a person interacts with his or her family or friends. Often, the person spends less time with the people he or she usually hangs out with and appears to become withdrawn.
- Frequent Flu-Like Symptoms
Some of the signs of opioid abuse are nausea, fever, and headache. If your friend or family member who is using prescription opioids is having these symptoms often, then it could be a sign that he or she isn’t using the drug as prescribed.
- Erratic Spending
The cost of financing one's opioid addiction can become astronomical, especially in the long run. If you notice unusual credit card charges or sudden (and strange) financial difficulties, then opioid use could be one of the possible reasons.
- Changes in Personal Hygiene
Complete disregard for one's personal hygiene is one of the signs of opioid use. If you find a friend or family looking unruly when they usually pay careful attention to their outward appearance, then they could be using opioids or other substances.
If not monitored or managed early, opioid abuse can become a serious health problem and even a threat to one's life. Aside from dependence and addiction, it can also cause nausea, constipation, and potential overdose which could lead to death. If you notice a family member or friend exhibiting the above signs of opioid abuse, it's best to talk to them and help them get professional guidance.
Our nation is in the midst of an opioid epidemic, and it's posing a serious threat to the workplace. Contact US Drug Test Centers today to learn how we can help.