You’re probably aware of the opioid epidemic, the nation’s current public health crisis. As death tolls from the crisis continue to rise dramatically every year, no one can afford to ignore such an issue, whether it is affecting your family or not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 42,000 people died from an opioid-related overdose in 2016. Nationwide, 45 states have seen a 30% increase in opioid overdose from July 2016 to September 2017.
WHAT ARE OPIOIDS?
Commonly prescribed to alleviate severe pain, opiates include prescription pain killers such as oxycodone, dilaudid, morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, among others. The illegal street drug heroin is also classified as an opioid. Opioids are highly addictive and it does not take long to build a tolerance or experience withdrawal symptoms.
SIGNS OF OPIOID ADDICTION
As someone begins to abuse their opioid prescription, they will quickly develop a tolerance to the drug and will need increasingly larger doses to experience the same benefits. As their tolerance grows, they will become physically dependent on the drug; experiencing unpleasant feelings of withdrawal when they try to stop taking it. If the opioid abuse continues, they will develop a psychological dependence that will cause cravings for the opiates. Below are some signs to be mindful of if you suspect a loved one may be abusing their prescriptions.
– Drowsiness: Nodding off at inappropriate times, appearing drowsy or sedated is a sign of physical addiction to opioids.
– Change in sleep habits: As a person abuses opioids, they may sleep for longer periods of time. If they’re experiencing withdrawal, they may be unable to sleep.
– Weight loss: Opioid addicts tend to lose weight due to metabolic changes brought on by the drug abuse.
– Mood swings: Irritability, dramatic shifts in mood, or emotional outbursts.
– Social withdrawal: An addict may isolate or socially withdraw. They might also start spending less time with family, and more time with people you don’t know.
– Flu-like symptoms: Opioid withdrawal can cause flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue.
– Doctor shopping: An opioid addict will go to several doctors in order to obtain multiple prescriptions. You may notice an influx of injuries, ailments, missing pills, and attempts to hide medications.
If you’re concerned that a loved one may be abusing their prescriptions, speaking to an addiction specialist or health care professional is an important next step. They can provide you with the referrals and direction necessary to ensure that your friend or family member receives the appropriate help as quickly as possible.
Are you or a loved one struggling with opioid addiction and need help? Call me today and let’s schedule an appointment to talk.