The Warning Signs of Opioid Abuse That You Should Never Ignore

Opioid abuse and addiction is an increasingly devastating problem across the U.S., and it might hit closer to home than you realize. Between 1999 and 2018, almost 450,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid (including prescriptions). 

With opioids, what starts as short-term use as a prescription can easily turn into a life-altering addiction. Many users don’t realize they’ve developed an addiction until it affects life and work to the point of devastation. 

It can be challenging to recognize the warning signs for yourself or others without the right information. Keep reading to learn more about what to look for and how to get help fast. 

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs found in the opium poppy plant. When used, these drugs (prescription or recreational) can block or reduce the number of pain signals sent to the brain. When prescribed as pain killers, you might recognize opioids as medications like:

  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine

However, in its recreational form, people seek out drugs like opium and heroin to feed an addiction. 

What Are the Signs of Opioid Abuse?

Overindulging on prescription opioid medications or transitioning to drugs like heroin can indicate an addiction. However, recognizing some warning signs can help you or a loved one seek treatment at a drug rehab center

Physical Symptoms of Opioid Abuse

Opioid abuse can lead to physical symptoms, including:

  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Shallow breathing or a slow breathing rate
  • Constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Drowsiness
  • Sweating
  • Shaking

These physical symptoms will happen with increasing frequency that can become the normal state of existence for severe addicts. Without help, these health problems can become severe long-term conditions or lead to death. 

Behavioral Problems

Along with physical issues, opioid addicts can exhibit behavioral problems, including:

  • Extreme anxiety attacks
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Poor decision making
  • Problems following rules or laws
  • Low motivation and abandonment of responsibilities
  • Changes in sleep (too much or too little)
  • Poor hygiene
  • Loss of appetite (or a significant increase in appetite)
  • Sudden and ongoing financial hardship
  • Missing appointments
  • Isolation and withdrawal from friends or family

On their own or occasionally, these symptoms can be signs of a variety of issues unrelated to opioid use. However, When you know someone who falls into these behavioral patterns consistently, it can be a red flag indicating opioid abuse and addiction.

If you or a loved one has a family history of drug or substance abuse combined with any of these physical or behavioral issues, it’s time for a conversation about the symptoms and their causes. 

Recognize the Signs of Opioid Abuse

Recognizing the signs of opioid abuse can save a life. If you experience these symptoms combined with the use of prescription or recreational opioids, it’s time to seek help. When you notice these symptoms occurring with a friend or loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out and help them find treatment. 

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