The signs and symptoms of opioid abuse can vary from person to person. If you suspect that your loved one is abusing opioids, recognizing the warning signs of opioid abuse can help prevent overdose and death. You can get treatment for opioid use disorder, and recovery is possible for anyone, no matter how severe their addiction is.
The Prevalence of Opioid Abuse in the U.S.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Nearly 92,000 persons in the U.S. died from drug-involved overdose in 2020, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids.” The number of overdose deaths in 2020 rose by over 20,000 deaths compared to 2019. Most drug overdose deaths in the U.S. involve prescription or illicit opioids.
Opioids are highly addictive due to their powerful effects on the brain. Opioid use disorder can affect people from all walks of life. Often, opioid addiction begins with prescription misuse of pills meant to help with chronic pain. Some people start misusing their prescriptions for the euphoric effects of opioids.
Opioid prescription misuse might involve some of the following behaviors:
- Doctor shopping: To obtain more medications, a person might go from one doctor to the next for additional scripts for opioids.
- Feigning pain symptoms: Faking or exaggerating pain could be a way of getting an increased dosage of opioids from a physician.
- Using illegal opioids: When a person cannot obtain additional scripts from their primary physician or other medical professionals, they might begin seeking illicit drugs to get their fix from opioids. Illegal opioid use could involve buying other people’s medications or street drugs like heroin.
As the opioid crisis continues in the U.S., understanding the risk factors of opioid addiction can help you identify if your loved one is at high risk.
Risk Factors of Opioid Abuse
Not everyone who uses opioids becomes addicted. However, compared to other drugs, opioids carry a much higher risk of developing physical dependence, possibly leading to an addiction compared to other drugs. Some people are at a greater risk of addiction due to biological, social, and mental health factors.
Risk factors of developing an addiction to opioids include:
- Underlying mental health disorders, like depression, anxiety, or trauma
- Close family member with a substance use disorder
- Difficulty managing stress and coping with changes in life
- Lack of a social support system or being isolated from others
- Younger people can be at a greater risk of addiction due to peer pressure
- History of addiction to other substances, especially if past substance abuse occurred during adolescence
Not everyone with these risk factors will develop an addiction. Additionally, some people without any risk factors could develop an addiction to opioids. When a person continues to use opioids despite severe negative consequences like losing their job, getting arrested, or causing problems in close interpersonal relationships, they might have an opioid use disorder.
By understanding the signs and symptoms of opioid abuse, you can help your loved one get the help they need. No one ever starts using drugs thinking that they will become addicted. The earlier you notice the signs of addiction, the greater the chances of helping a person recover before severe consequences occur.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse?
The following are common signs and symptoms of opioid abuse:
- Cravings that are difficult to control due to withdrawal symptoms
- Fatigue and drowsiness due to sleep disturbances
- Significant unplanned weight loss
- Frequent sickness, usually with flu-like symptoms
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- New financial issues, like being broke frequently or constantly asking for money
- Isolating from family and friends
- A sudden change of friends
- Secretive behaviors, like a reluctance to disclose where they have been or who they spend time with
- Decreased performance at work or school
- Frequent absences from school or work
- Ignoring family and household responsibilities
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty focusing on tasks or concentrating
When you notice sudden and unexplained changes like these in your loved one, they might be struggling with opioid addiction. Some of these symptoms could be due to other physical and mental health issues. You always want to rule out any other problems and consider any significant life changes that could explain these issues.
However, if you see these signs along with physical evidence of pills, needles, or injection marks, your loved one could be struggling with opioid abuse.
Speaking With Your Loved One About Opioid Addiction
If you are concerned about a loved one, keep the following tips in mind to approach them about their behaviors:
- Talk to them from a place of concern and not in a judgmental manner
- Share your observations about the changes to their mood and behaviors
- Research addiction and opioid abuse to gain insight into your loved one’s behaviors
- Look for treatment options to help your loved one find a facility for detox and rehab
- Consider hiring an interventionist to help you and others voice your concerns to your loved one
Opioid abuse can be deadly when left untreated. If you are concerned about your loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out to a drug rehabilitation center for assistance.
Opioid Abuse Treatment in Nashville
If your loved one is displaying signs and symptoms of opioid abuse, you can reach out to addiction treatment centers for help. Brentwood Springs Detox of Nashville, TN, is here to help you or your loved one break the chains of addiction and get on the road to recovery. Call us today or visit our admissions page to learn more.