Opiate Addiction Symptoms
Opiate Addiction Symptoms
So what does an
opiate addict look like and how would you know?
You can probably conjure up a stereotype—a skid row junkie shooting up
heroin at a condemned drug house in some large urban area.
Americans tend to think that opiate addiction
isn’t out in the open, so they fail to see the millions of people who begin to
get into trouble with these powerful drugs, mainly because they aren’t looking
at what is in front of them.
May be hard to spot
symptoms are sometimes hard to spot, mainly because you’re not expecting
something to be out of the ordinary.
example, I once worked with a stay-at-home mother of two girls, who was married
to a police officer and was trying to recover from a knee surgery.
There were some post-operative complications
and instead of correcting her knee problem, the failed surgery created a
chronic pain management issue.
prescribed an opiate analgesic to help her with the discomfort.
It wasn’t meant to be taken over the long haul,
but she quickly began to take too many pills, too often.
Let’s stop there for a moment.
Taking prescription pain medication in any
way other than the exact, prescribed way is drug abuse
. Opiate addiction
symptoms begin with drug abuse.
As time wore on,
she had to refill her prescription too often, and so to make sure she had
enough opiate pain medication on hand she would find another doctor to writer
her a script.
At the time it was
relatively easy to “doctor shop.” She described how she had doctors
Her pain persisted and her
dependence on the opiate drug increased to the point where she would get
desperate if she thought she was going to run out.
She even took money out of the children’s
piggy bank to buy from a street dealer.
It wasn’t until she ran afoul with the law that her husband, the cop,
even knew there was an issue.
symptoms are as subtle as a whisper for help, or as obvious as a rap
We’ll take a look at opiate
addiction symptoms and show some ways in which family and friends can spot
trouble, hopefully before it gets too far along.
addiction. Not everybody that takes
drugs will become an addict. Not
everyone who abuses opiate drugs for recreation will become an addict. Addiction
is when the user can no longer chose whether or not to use the drug. People say they can handle it, but so often
They tell you they can quit anytime they want, only they don’t.
Chances are, there are slipping into
addiction. You may have a talk with them
and they agree that they need to “cut down,” or they’ll promise to “cut down,”
only it never happens. An opiate addiction symptom is the denial of the addict,
when everyone else clearly sees there is a problem.
There are some general
signs of addiction that not only apply to opiates, but have application for
people who abuse other drugs, such as alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Watch for
signs of behavior change. As a person
begins to slide down the slippery slope of addiction, they will begin to use
more drug more often.
begins with the user building a tolerance to the drug, meaning it takes more
drug to achieve the same results.
It takes more and more pills
one pill every four hours used to do fine, now it takes four pills. As the disease of addiction progresses, family
and friends might begin to get concerned about the person’s use of the
drug. “Aren’t you taking too much?” The answer is always no, but it is clear that
something might be wrong.
sometimes become more solitary as they try to hide their addiction. They may become isolated and chose to be
alone rather than with the rest of the family. Young people might lose interest
in their friends, a sure sign of problems because young people tend to look to
their peers for approval and support.
They might begin to hang with a new crowd, casting off old friends. Grades might suffer as a result of drug
They might be sleeping too much, or
lose weight, or from time-to-time become irritable for no reason.
These are all possibilities. Farther along, a
person might start to miss work, or drop out of school, or lose interest in
their appearance. Sometimes these
symptoms are barely evident, but together they represent a major change in
As the cycle of
the addiction moves forward, opiate addiction symptoms become more apparent, as
the drug is now the primary focus of the person’s day. The addict may have begun to crush the drug
and snort it like they would cocaine, which produces a more intense high. They are always trying to find more. The problem is, prescription pain medication
is expensive, to an opiate addict may switch from their pharmaceutical to
street heroin, which is less expensive, but clearly more dangerous because they
don’t know what they are buying.
A good indication
to look for is when the person doesn’t have the drug. Sometimes within hours, or perhaps a day,
they will begin to suffer withdrawal.
They are used to having the opiate and their brain thinks the opiate is
supposed to be there to function, so the intense cravings begin.
addiction symptoms will be those of people who have respiratory distress, or
heart disease. They may suffer from
malnutrition. In some cases they may
have emotional and psychological issues.
They may wind up in the emergency room after an overdose.
The main point
for family and friends is to be watchful.
Those changes in behavior are sure signs that something is wrong. Opiates deaden pain, they are downers and an
opiate addiction symptom like slowing down or slurred speech is a sign. But just watching routine daily activities
can tell you a lot. The addiction is not
going to want to let go, so addicts sometimes need a strong hand to get them
There is hope. Treatment centers all over the
country can provide expert medical care and professional drug counseling for
addicts who desire to get the monkey off their back.
Family members need to be strong, persistent
and stand their ground.
The addict will
fight against treatment, but given free reign in a person’s life, the opiate
addiction symptoms will one day become the cause of death.