How To Spot Signs Of Opiate Use

opiod addiction

Opioid use and addiction is at an all-time high in the United States and has been steadily increasing since opioids started being widely prescribed in the late 1990s.

Opioids were initially put on the market in hopes of helping patients recovering from surgery or suffering from chronic pain.

Opioids include: Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Meperidine, Methadone, Morphine, Oxycodone and Heroin.

Eventually it was discovered that opioids also have highly addictive qualities themselves, which gave rise to unprecedented numbers of opioid addictions.

Now being called an epidemic, opioid addiction affects users from various backgrounds and communities.

It can be difficult to discern if someone you know is using opiates or is addicted, especially in the beginning of drug or prescription drug use.

Indications to look out for can be both behavioral and physical.

If you suspect that someone you know may have an opioid addiction, look out for these behaviors before considering treatment.

Physical signs

  1. Noticeably euphoric or extremely happy behavior
  2. Very soon after this euphoric state comes a visible fatigue
  3. Someone on opiates may start acting confused
  4. Loss of consciousness or nodding off may occur
  5. Miosis, or excessively constricted pupils
  6. Opiate users could feel itchy when they first start using
  7. Nausea and vomiting are also a side effect
  8. A slower reaction time and in general movement
  9. Constipation

Heroin users could also have symptoms such as slowed breathing, flushed skin, dry mouth, and a suppressed immune system, causing the user to be frequently sick. Addicts might also start taking laxatives to offset frequent constipation.

While physical signs of opiate use will be the first thing you naturally recognize as an observer, opioid users, especially those who are addicted and trying to hide the signs of addiction, will acclimate or attempt to hide symptoms to throw their loved ones off.

There are, however, more alarming or overt signs behaviorally.

Behavioral signs

  1. The most obvious sign of opioid addiction is withdrawing from commitments like school, work, or other activities the user would normally participate in. Suspicious behavior can start early in an opioid addict’s new routine.
  2. Following or creating different habits or routines
  3. Associating with different or odd circles
  4. Irritability or angry outbursts
  5. May exhibit signs of anxiety or nervousness
  6. Secrecy or dishonesty can indicate not just opiate use, but also addiction
  7. Addicts can start visiting several different doctors in order to obtain prescriptions more easily
  8. The most extreme behavioral example would be getting involved with the police or being arrested

A physical and behavioral symptom of opioid use or abuse would also be withdrawal symptoms that resemble aggressive flu like symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, and headache.

The symptoms of opioid use worsen over time. Be careful to use caution when dealing with addicts struggling with opioid addiction, especially if they are experiencing withdrawal or become aggressive.

Knowing the signs of opioid addiction, however, could help you identify if your loved one or friend needs help.

After identifying signs and symptoms, it’s best to find Addiction treatment as soon as possible.

About the Author Mae Davies

BA, MA Psychology (and Conflict Resolution), University of Cambridge (2007). With a decade of trial and error in psychology and 33 years of navigating my own complex (that's one word for it!) relationships with family, friends, co-workers and men, I hope I have some useful knowledge and skills to share with my readers about making sense of relationships and trying to become a better person every day.

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