How to Recognize the Signs of Opiate Abuse and What to Do Next

In 2018, 128 people every day died from overdosing on opiate painkillers in the United States. Recognizing signs of opiate addiction can be tough. Watching a loved one go further down a path that includes addiction to painkillers is even more difficult.

Learning the signs of opiate abuse can help you save them from going further down the path. There are different signs and physical markers that one may recognize as they see their behaviors change.

Putting a loved one on a road to recovery, more quickly, can help them live a longer, more rewarding life.

We’ll go through some of the signs to recognize signs of opiate abuse, and what you can do next to help a loved one get on the road to beat their addiction.

What Are Opiates And Opioids?

Opiates and opioids are a class of painkillers. They are prescription drugs that are prescribed by doctors for patients experiencing intense pain, both in the long and short term.

Codeine and morphine are examples of medically prescribed opiates. Other prescription opiates and opioids come under the brand names OxyContin and Vicodin.

These drugs come with warnings of side effects when prescribed, and becoming habit-forming is one of them.

One of the most widespread, illegal opiates used that you may hear about is heroin.

What is Addiction?

An addiction occurs when one’s mind and body does not believe that it can continue functioning “normally” without an outside substance. Without an opiate, the body and mind may have other symptoms.

Far enough into an addiction, there can be a dangerous withdrawal period where the body actually will not survive without the substance.

Signs of Opiate Abuse

Symptoms of opiate abuse can include a wide array of physical manifestations. While you cannot diagnose a loved one, finding a pattern of symptoms may help guide them to a conclusion where they can seek help in diagnosing and addressing addiction.

If a person is using heroin regularly, one may notice needle holes in one’s arms and hands. Heroin is most often an injected drug. So needles that are otherwise medically unnecessary may also be a sign of drug use.

One of the more obvious signs of opiate drug use can be seen in the user’s pupils. If their pupils are very small, much smaller than usual even in low light situations, this may be a sign to keep track of.

More behaviors linked with opiate abuse is withdrawing from social events and from people that one used to be with. Sudden mood swings may be a part of this process and calm immediately after opiate use is generally what calms the person down.

Along with mood swings can come an increase in risky behavior, and changes in sleeping patterns. Sleeping at odd times throughout the day, or napping constantly can be a sign of increased use.

An addicted person may be visiting doctors’ offices much more frequently, in an effort to obtain more of a prescription drug. Opiates and opioids are a controlled substance, so they are prescribed in smaller amounts to control a person’s use.

What Are The Options If a Loved One May Be Addicted to Opiates?

Having a conversation with the person is the first step. You may have heard this referred to as an intervention. Having a planned conversation with the person you are concerned with, whether alone or with friends and family who have also noticed the behavior, can help the person see more clearly their own behavior.

Opiate addiction needs to be addressed by a physician or addiction therapist. The addiction may require extra steps to break safely, including the use of methadone.

Methadone is another prescription painkiller, however, it may be used to help step someone down from an addiction to lessen the negative side effects they may experience along the way.

What Next?

The signs of opiate abuse look different on each individual. Hopefully, learning some of the signs to look for can help prepare the concerned friend or family member for the next steps needed to help their loved one. Finding a doctor and therapist to help your loved one will help set everyone up for success.

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