Opioid dependency is a steadily growing epidemic among Americans.
As a medication, opioids work by decreasing the number of pain signals your body sends to the brain. This is great for those who suffer from intense pain. When used long-term, it can lead to abuse and addiction.
Among the millions of patients that are prescribed opioids each year, as many as 8-12% will develop a usage disorder.
Keep reading to discover if you or a loved one is exhibiting signs of opioid addiction.
Signs of Opioid Addiction
Doctors typically prescribe opioids after surgery, painful dental procedures, and during cancer treatment. When used for short periods, there is no risk of addiction. The chances of addiction and abuse increase after using prescription opiates for just 3 days. After 5 days the chances someone will be on opiates long term drastically increases.
Addiction occurs when you feel unable to stop using a substance despite its negative affect on your life. Addiction can occur without the user chasing the euphoric ‘high’ of opiates.
An addiction to opioids is usually easy to self-diagnose.
Cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation are all signs that you may have an opioid dependency. The bowls slow down with long-acting opioids giving the body more time to absorb the medicine. In turn, your body also has more time to draw water out of your stool making it difficult to pass.
For a small number of people, opiates can actually increase pain and cause a disorder known as narcotic bowel syndrome(NBS).
Emotional and Mental Health Issues
Depression and anxiety are common co-occurring disorders with addiction but they can also be symptoms. Some people use substances as a means to suppress hard feelings. When the drugs aren’t present anymore those emotions become hard to handle.
People that are professionals or family members may become embarrassed or ashamed of their addiction and feel traped by it. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.
Abnormal Sleep Patterns
Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep are all common symptoms of opiate addiction. You may also find yourself falling asleep during the day.
Because opiates affect the central nervous system, they can cause it to behave strangely during sleep. Sleep is more restless and becomes more difficult to feel well-rested. This called parasomnia.
Attitude changes (behavioral changes)
An addicted person may lose interest in previously loved activities. They may exhibit a loss of sex drive or a change in hygiene care. Individuals that are embarrassed of their addiction may try to lie to loved ones to cover it up. When prescription drugs run out, some switch to stronger narcotics such as heroin. This can lead to stealing to obtain more drugs.
Lowered Tolerance to Pain
Another negative effect of the long term use of opiates is a lowered pain threshold. Your nerves increase in sensitivity and the drugs no longer provide relief. This leads to a cycle of opioid use to avoid the pain while continuing to do damage to the body.
How to Overcome Your Addiction
Opioid addictions are particularly hard to overcome because your body forms a chemical dependency on them. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the amount and duration of opioid use. Trying to break the habit on your own could be fatal. Physician-assisted rehabilitation and relapse prevention reduce the dangers of withdrawal from opiates and the risk of relapse.
Recovering from opioid addiction can take years before your body feels normal again. Innovations in medical treatment, like those offered by ANR Clinic, use new technology to help your brain and body get back to equilibrium faster. This is performed by helping the brain re-regulate endorphin production therefore reducing drug-seeking behaviors.
Other proven methods of rehabilitation include cognitive therapy. The patient is taught new ways of managing emotions that lead to drug use.
If you suffer with chronic pain but don’t want to risk opiate addiction, look for non-narcotic options.
A Better Life is Possible
When used for a very short time, prescription opioids offer great relief to painful ailments. When used for months at a time they disrupt the quality of life.
It’s not recommended to get off opioids on your own if you have been using them long term. If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of opioid addiction, there are medically assisted treatment clinics and therapeutic interventions to help.
Substance abuse can put an elephant-sized strain on your relationships. To read more about sex, dating and relationship building, check out more of our site.