How to Identify Signs of Opioid Abuse

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Awareness is a powerful tool in the fight against opioid abuse. Frequently, a person who develops a substance use disorder will also experience numerous other life changes as a result. These can range from the subtle changes in appearance to noticeable changes in behavior, like missing work or school.

Often times, friends and family members are in the best position to observe such changes. These are also likely to be the people most capable of influencing someone who is struggling with a substance use disorder. Keep reading to learn more about signs and symptoms of opioid abuse.

At a Glance: The Opioid Crisis

Opiates are often prescribed legally, and can help those dealing with chronic or acute pain. Problems arise when a person becomes unable to control their usage. It’s easy for opioids to become addictive if not taken as prescribed or if used recreationally.

January 2019 data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse illustrates a clear picture of the opioid epidemic:

  • Roughly 20 to 30% of patients will misuse their prescribed opioid substances.
  • Of this segment, between 8 and 12% are expected to develop substance use disorders.
  • Over 3,000 overdose deaths occur in the U.S. each month as a result of opioid abuse.
  • The resulting economic toll is estimated to exceed $78 billion annually.

Recognizing the Warning Signs

Here are some common signs if you suspect that someone you care about is abusing opioids.

Many early signs of opioid use are subtle, such as changes in one’s diet, grooming habits, or personal appearance. A person may lose or gain weight. Constipation is also a common symptom of someone abusing opioids. You may even observe physical evidence of drug use, including puncture sores, scabs or other skin-related injuries.

Mood changes are also common. An individual may experience episodes of manic energy or display unusually irritable or anxious moods.

In many cases, the life priorities of a person struggling with addiction will shift dramatically. They are more likely to focus most of their time and attention on using opioids. School, work, or existing social connections may be impacted. Abuse can cause an individual to lose interest in previously enjoyed activities, or to withdraw from their usual social circles entirely. A person may even encounter legal or financial difficulties as result of an opioid use disorder.

Recognizing the physical, behavioral, and emotional warning signs above is an important first step in early intervention.

Seeing someone you love struggle with opioids can be an extremely difficult experience. It can make them seem distant and unrecognizable. Fortunately, safe and effective treatment is available.

Pyramid Healthcare provides a safe and supportive environment where adults and teens can take steps to overcome opioid addiction. Learn more about detox programs. Don’t spend another day feeling powerless to help someone you care about.

Those who aren’t ready to enter treatment but want to learn more about Pyramid Healthcare are encouraged to call our admissions department.

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