opioid addiction

What Is a Prescription Opioid Addiction?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

What exactly is an opioid addiction? When the medical community uses this term, they usually refer to an addiction to prescription medication. Most often these medical drugs are used as pain relievers, sedatives, tranquilizers, and stimulants. Simple enough right?

The difficulty with this kind of addiction is that it probably originated from a true need. Chronic pain is commonly combated with an opioid prescription as well as, to a lesser degree, coughs and diarrhea. While these drugs offer much needed relief to many forms of acute and long-term pain, they are closely related to heroin (also an opiate). As such, they will engage the feel-good portions of the brain (causing euphoria or highs), making opioids regularly sought out for misuse. Millions of people in America alone are addicted to prescription drugs.

While some of these prescription drugs are actually used to help people overcome addiction to other opiates, they are still highly addictive and should only be used according to a medical prescription. Here are a few of the common drugs in an opioid addiction.

  • Buprenex (suboxone)
  • Codeine
  • Demerol
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Lorcet
  • Methadone
  • Morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)
  • Naloxone
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • Vicodin
  • Vicoprofen
  • others

Opiate addiction is real, and it is an epidemic. Opiates are fatal and they are taking our country hostage. Knowing the signs of opiate addiction can help save a life. Here are a few things to look for.

1. Pinned Pupils

Opiates cause pupils to constrict or to become much smaller in size. If you have noticed that your loved one’s pupils are much smaller than usual, especially when in a darker space you should say something to them. People who are struggling with opiate addiction are not able to offset this effect. If you have a small light on hand this is very easy to test. Turn off most of the lights in the room, shine the light into your loved one’s eye. When you remove the light if their pupils don’t dilate they maybe struggling with opiate addiction. Use your eye or someone else’s as a point of reference for what the pupil should look like.

2. Financial Issues

Have you noticed your change jar is lower than you remembered it? Are you constantly “misplacing” cash? Have mysterious charges showed up on credit card statements? Have valuables gone missing from your home without reason? Then keep a close eye on your loved ones. When someone is addicted to opiates they are almost guaranteed to have financial issues. Opiates demand daily use or painful physical withdrawal will take place.

3. Change in Speech/Nodding Out

Opiate addiction will cause speech to become slower and words to become slurred and often mumbled. You may notice them slowly going in and out of complete consciousness, this is often referred to as nodding out. They may bump into walls, walk slower, drop and misplace items frequently and when severely intoxicated drool. When under the influence opiate addicts will get itchy skin and scratch it frequently. Clammy hands and a sweaty forehead are also common.

4. Change in Sleeping Patterns

All drugs in the opiate family will cause physical dependence with prolonged use. When opiate addicts are nodding out they are not actually sleeping, the REM state is not reached and the body never gets the rest it really needs. Most people struggling with opiate addiction will need the opiate to sleep, if they do not have them, their body will go into withdrawal and actual sleep becomes near impossible.

5. Physical Changes

Opiate addiction can cause some dramatic physical changes in a person. Weight loss is one of the most common. When someone is addicted to opiates they will usually put drugs ahead of all other things, including food, family, friends, and sleep. Opiates also suppress appetite.

6. Behavioral Changes

Opiates change the chemical makeup of the brain. You may notice you loved one is more easily upset and can be brought to tears over something small. They may switch from being happy to angry in the blink of an eye. When you approach them about their potential opiate addiction they instantly become offended, angry and defensive.

Are You or a Loved One Struggling?
If you or a loved are struggling with opiate addiction please reach out today, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. At First Steps Recovery, we never give up on residents. Opiate addiction cause too much pain and heartbreak in our country, help stop the pain today. Please call us today if you or a loved one are struggling (1-844-489-0836).

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