Opioid addiction has been a growing concern in the United States for many years, and the signs of opioid addiction are not always obvious. Current government statistics show that more than 20 million people have used opioids at least once in their lives, opioid overdose deaths have sharply risen, and more than 10 million people abused their opioid pain prescriptions in 2019 alone. One of the most unfortunate truths about any drug addiction is that it never affects the user exclusively. If you are concerned that a friend or a loved one may be addicted to opioids, we will discuss a few of the most common signs and symptoms to watch out for along with some advice on what to do next.
Understanding Opioid Addiction
The reason why opioids serve as highly effective painkillers is that they chemically bond to preexisting receptor sites in the brain and begin to take effect quickly. The human brain naturally produces chemicals called endorphins that create feelings of happiness and euphoria as well as help the body deal with any pain, depression, and anxiety you may be experiencing. Opioids mimic these effects and function very similar to the way endorphins do, only they do so with exponential amounts of strength. Therefore, when opioid users abuse the substance, they flood their brains with these overwhelming chemicals and create powerful feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
As abuse continues, the body will begin developing a natural tolerance to the substance, which will require the individual to increase the amount of opioids they consume in order to experience the desired effects, meanwhile, the natural chemicals the brain produces to experience these feelings will begin to have less effect. These two unfortunate circumstances work against each other, creating a horrible cycle of dependence and resistance that fuel the addiction and disrupt the lives of the abusers and those around them.
Signs of Opioid Addiction
As mentioned previously, the signs of opioid abuse are not always obvious at first. The symptoms and side effects of abuse can be manageable and easy for the user to conceal in the early stages. However, as the abuse continues, the severity of their symptoms will begin to increase and certain signs will begin to manifest.
While every person is different, and opioid abuse can have varying effects on different individuals, the most common of them involve changes in the abuser’s behavior. A person struggling with opioid abuse may begin isolating themselves from others and stop doing the things they normally like doing. The behavioral symptoms could advance to unorthodox means of obtaining more opioids to use, such as visiting multiple doctors and lying about pain in order to receive prescriptions for opioid pain medications. Some even resort to extreme measures such as theft and robbery in order to pay for street drugs or even stealing medications from other patients
Some of the more obvious physical signs that commonly manifest include the constriction of the pupils in their eyes, which is a common indicator of someone under the influence of a number of different substances, along with a noticeable decline in their personal appearances such as weight loss or lack of hygiene. Digestive problems can also be a recurring issue, leading to regular disruptions like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Finally, some of the less obvious signs that will manifest after prolonged abuse will involve a decline in their cognitive and psychosocial functions. Abusers will experience a decline in their motor skills and have difficulty regulating their emotions. This can lead to sudden mood swings and irrational outbursts of anger that seem to arise out of nowhere. Poor judgment, poor problem-solving skills, irritability, depression, and anxiety can also begin to bombard the user during their low times, further increasing their need for the next dose.
Opioid Treatment at American Treatment Network in Dover, DE
The opioid crisis in America is a very serious and growing threat. If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, American Treatment Network can help. For individuals seeking alcohol recovery or opioid recovery treatment in Dover, DE, please visit our website to schedule your appointment today. We also have offices conveniently located in Newark, DE, and Havertown, PA.