Opioid Addiction: The Warning Signs to Look Out For

October 26, 2021

If you or a loved one is using an opioid for pain, it’s essential to know what signs to look out for that might be leading to opioid addiction. 

As defined by Johns Hopkins Medicine, opioids are  “a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant and that work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including the relief of pain with many of these drugs.”  Drugs created with opioids, or synthetically made to act as an opioid, interact with the opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain, which will help to relieve pain and a sense of euphoria. 

Opioids are substances that can be prescribed to a patient experiencing high levels of pain. They are safe to be used for short periods and only used as instructed by a doctor and pharmacist. Unfortunately, however, the drugs are highly addictive and are often misused due to the sense of euphoria or the “high” experienced by users. 

The following opioids are pain relievers that a doctor must prescribe and are only distributed at a pharmacy with a valid prescription: 

  • Codeine (only available in generic form)
  • Fentanyl (Brand names: Actiq, Abstral, Duragesic, and Fentora)
  • Hydrocodone (Brand names: Hysingla and Zohydro ER)
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Brand names: Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Brand names: Dilaudid and Exalgo)
  • Meperidine (Brand name: Demerol)
  • Methadone (Brand names: Dolophine and Methadose)
  • Morphine (Brand names: Kadian, MS Contin, and Morphabond)
  • Oliceridine (Brand name: Olynvik)
  • Oxycodone (Brand names: OxyContin and Oxaydo)
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Brand names: Percocet and Roxicet)
  • Oxycodone and naloxone 

Some opioids cannot be administered, such as heroin, which is an illegal form of opioid that is processed from morphine. 

Signs of Opioid Addiction 

As mentioned before, opioids are addictive when misused. “Misuse” of the medication is when the drug is used other than how the doctor prescribed it. Examples of misuse are: 

  • When someone takes a prescription that isn’t theirs.
  • If someone takes a higher dosage than instructed.
  • Using the drug to get “high” rather than for what it was prescribed.
  • Mixing the drug with another substance like alcohol and other medications. 

Misuse of the drug is likely one of the first signs that you are someone dealing with opioid addiction. 

Here are other signs to look out for that may indicate addiction to opioids: 

  • You choose to take the drug even if you’re no longer feeling pain.
  • You’re building a tolerance to the drug and need a higher dose to feel the same effects.
  • You spend ample amounts of time and money trying to acquire more of the drug.
  • You experience an uncontrollable craving for the drug.
  • You push away loved ones, especially those who are concerned about your drug use.
  • Your sleep and hygiene habits have changed.
  • You feel frequent flu-like symptoms.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not in your system or take the medication to avoid feeling the withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may include but are not limited to: 
    • Muscle aches 
    • Excessive sweating 
    • Anxiety
    • Abdominal cramping 
    • High blood pressure 
    • Rapid heartbeat 

How to Prevent Opioid Addiction 

There are ways to avoid opioid misuse and addiction. If you’re seeing a doctor for mild to severe pain, remind yourself that there are other ways to manage pain than to take opioids. If you have a history of drug abuse, let your doctor know so the two of you can come up with a plan together. 

If you are prescribed opioids for pain management, here are the things you can do to avoid abuse: 

  • Only take the amount your doctor has prescribed, according to their directions.
  • Let your doctor know of any other medications you are taking, especially those that make you feel drowsy, which is dangerous when taking opioids.
  • Never share or sell your prescription.
  • Keep your prescription in a secure place away from visitors, children, and pets. 
  • Properly dispose of your prescription medications when you no longer need them. 
  • Ask a close friend or family member to keep you accountable for only taking the designated dosage.

Steps Recovery Centers Helps with Opioid Addiction 

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, take action by calling Steps Recovery Centers today. We offer addiction recovery support through both medical and holistic practices for addicts and their loved ones. If you’re seeking help, here is your sign. Contact us today to learn about our services and schedule a free consultation. 

We have recovery centers in Draper, Payson, and St. George, Utah.

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