No one tries to develop a problem with their opioid prescription medication. Initially, these medications are usually taken with adherence to doctor orders. And, every intention is to use them to help with symptoms of pain. But, with long-term use, it’s almost impossible not to develop a physical addiction to these drugs and also starts exhibiting addictive behaviors as a result. And, unfortunately, because these medications are so commonly prescribed, individuals rarely think or even know they have an opioid problem. So, to help you determine whether or not you or a loved one has a problem with their opioid medication, we’ve come up with a few warning signs.
Opioids are synthetic medications or drugs which mirror the chemical components and effects that opiates like heroin and opium offer. Since opiates provide a relaxing effect due to dopamine and serotonin release in the brain, they are good at reducing symptoms of pain. Opioids were developed for specifically that; to help those in pain. They’re practically a legal way to give individuals the pain reducing effects which are identical to those of illicit drugs in a medical setting. So, doctors may prescribe these to people recovering from surgery, injury, or illness which require help with symptoms of pain.
While opioids are effective in helping to reduce symptoms of pain, they’re extremely dangerous with long-term use. That’s because of their potential to form dependence in as little as the first prescription regimen. And, there is a risk for overdose and, in turn, overdose death. Currently, over 90 Americans die of an opioid overdose each day. And, these numbers are only getting worse with each year. Because the death number is so high, people around the globe have been calling the issue an opioid epidemic. This past year, the president has declared a state of emergency due to the opioid epidemic in our country.
Sleepiness: Since opioids are depressants, they slow the breathing and heart rate down. As a result, a person using depressants may experience fatigue. If you or a loved one is frequently falling asleep when they should be awake, it may be due to opioid abuse or dependence.
Malnourishment: It’s typical to see malnourishment in opioid users because these drugs change the reward system found in the brain. This system is responsible for the happy feelings we experience when we do things we need to survive like mate, sleep, and eat. So, when this system changes with opioid use, eating isn’t the same anymore. Instead of an appetite for food, a person dependent on opioids will have an appetite for painkillers. As a result, many people with an opioid problem become malnourished and may lose weight rapidly.
Lack of Libido: Since the reward system is responsible for the rush of “feel good” brain chemicals during sex, those who are dependent on opioids will likely not have the drive they had for sex as previously.
Withdrawal Symptoms: This is undoubtedly one of the biggest signs of an opioid problem you can look out for. Only those dependent on addictive substances will experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not present in the body. So, if you or a loved one experience nausea, muscle aches, runny nose, fever, headache, depression, anxiety, or any other agitating symptoms when the drug use ceases, an opioid problem is likely to be present.
Negative Consequences: Finally, when individuals are dependent on any potent substance, they may eventually start to exhibit addictive behaviors. One of these behaviors is to continue the use of substances even though there are obvious negative consequences of use. So, if you or a loved one continues to use opioids even after a job loss, divorce, broken relationships, financial issues, or medical ailments as a result of opioid use, there may be not only developed dependence but addiction as well.
Fortunately, opioid dependence and addiction don’t have to last forever. It’s possible to get the help you need, but don’t wait until it’s too late. You don’t want to become another opioid epidemic statistic. If you recognize any of these five signs in your own life or the life of a loved one, Diablo Valley Medically Assisted Treatment is here to help.