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How Do I Know If Someone Is On Opioids?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 10 million people misused or abused opioids in 2018. As the number of individuals addicted to opioids continues to increase, it is imperative to better understand this health crisis. You should know that almost 10 million of those people abusing or misusing opioids in 2018 were using prescription pain relievers, for example, with the remaining individuals (~800,000) were using heroin. And in 2017 alone, 47,600 people died from an opioid overdose, averaging about 130 individuals per day.

Close up of a man in pain because of opioid addiction

This information highlights how widespread opioid misuse is as well as how deadly an opioid addiction can be. It’s clearly important to take action if you suspect your loved one is abusing the substance, but sometimes determining if they’re using or not can be difficult. Let’s take a look at a look at how you can tell if someone might be suffering from opioid addiction.

Risk Factors

Before delving into specific symptoms of opioid abuse, it’s a good idea to look at some risk factors that could increase your loved one’s chances of addiction. Individuals taking opioids as medication for chronic pain, for example, might be at an increased risk of opioid addiction. Do not discount this possibility even if your loved one has come by their medication legally and legitimately, in other words, because it is not uncommon for people who take opioids prescribed by their doctor to end up misusing them.

In addition to the above, there are more general risk factors to consider. Younger individuals, especially teenagers and those in their 20s, have an increased risk of addiction. Someone living in stressful circumstances, someone who is unemployed, someone living in poverty, and someone with a family history or personal history of substance abuse are at an increased risk, too. Other risk factors include:

  • History of issues with family, friends, and work.
  • Past legal issues including DUIs.
  • Regular contact with high-risk environments for drug use or high-risk people.
  • History of mental illness, including anxiety or depression.
  • Heavy tobacco use.

These are not all of the risk factors out there, but they are some of the more common to encounter. If your loved one fits any of them, then they might be more prone to abusing opioids than other people and it’s a good idea to be attentive to their behaviour.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

There is a common misconception than someone misusing opioids has trouble keeping a job or maintaining personal relationships. While this might be a more comforting belief to have as it would simplify abuse detection, it is not always an accurate one. Many people are able to maintain a semblance of normalcy even while abusing, especially in early to moderate stages. That doesn’t mean that no problems will ever arise, of course, and it is likely that opioid addicts will face significant trouble in all of the aforementioned areas as their addiction continues to grow. In the beginning, however, the signs of substance abuse can be a bit more subtle.

Someone at their desk in pain and unable to work

Does your loved one regularly take opioids in ways that are not recommended by a doctor? This might include taking a higher dose than prescribed or “saving” some of the pills because they like the way they make them feel. Have they talked about taking an opioid “just in case” even when not currently in pain? Mood swings, sleeping pattern changes, and “losing” prescriptions or running out of prescriptions early are all signs of opioid misuse. Many people who abuse opioids will also attempt to obtain their prescriptions from multiple doctors to ensure that they have a “backup” if they run out of their current prescription. Finally, poor decision-making that puts your loved one or others in danger might indicate substance abuse.

Keep in mind that your loved one isn’t the only person who might experience a change in behaviour as their addiction increases. You might also find yourself exhibiting “symptoms”. These include concern about your loved one’s opioid use, finding yourself making excuses or lying for their behaviour, withdrawing from the relationship to avoid confrontation and mood swings, or considering calling the police when you know your loved one is using. These are warning signs that something isn’t right and that your relationship with the addict has changed. Don’t ignore these issues – keep them in mind and use them to help guide your actions.

Signs of Opioid Intoxication

The symptoms above cover the bigger issues and patterns that tend to develop in opioid addiction, but there is another set of symptoms to consider. If your loved one is abusing opioids, then you might find yourself around them while they are intoxicated or under the drug’s influence. Symptoms of this include:

  • Slowed Breathing
  • Clumsiness
  • Poor Coordination
  • Confusion
  • Constricted Pupils
  • Losing Consciousness/”Nodding Off”
  • Itchy, Flushed Skin
  • Falling Asleep (While Standing or Sitting Up)

If your loved one exhibits any of the symptoms above or any other behaviour that is unfamiliar or seems odd, then they might be under the influence of an opioid.

How to Move Forward

Identifying potential opioid abuse is hard but moving forward with that information can be even more so. Don’t try to take all of this on yourself – you’re not a professional and can’t be expected to know exactly what to do, let alone have the time to do it when you have your own life and responsibilities to uphold. This is where involving a professional care team is important.

At Freedom from Addiction, we understand that opioid addiction is difficult to understand and to treat. Our team is experienced in this field, however, and we have successfully treated many patients. If your loved one has an opioid problem, you should reach out to us today for more information and allow us to create the most effective plan for their recovery.

Get help 24 hours a day and seven days a week by calling 1.888.241.3391. We’re waiting for your call and are ready to help your loved one along the path of freedom from addiction.

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