Opioids are a type of narcotic that is highly addictive. This class of drugs includes pain relievers, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl, as well as illicit drugs like heroin. While prescription opioids are considered safe to use when taken as directed, when opioids are abused, they can be dangerous, and you may need to seek help from an opioid addiction treatment program.
Medication misuse can involve taking another person’s prescriptions, buying prescriptions illegally, or taking more than directed. When opioids are abused, a person can become addicted quickly. Opioid addiction is formally known as “opioid use disorder.”
Opioid Abuse in America
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) reports that more than 130 Americans die daily from an opioid-related drug overdose. While the opioid epidemic has been taking over news headlines in recent years, opioid abuse hasn’t slowed down. The NIH estimates that 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids abuse them. Furthermore, between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder. Sadly, approximately 4 to 6% of people who abuse prescription opioids later begin using heroin and need treatment from a heroin addiction treatment program.
The opioid epidemic has been labeled a public health crisis due to overprescribing practices, malicious marketing tactics, and staggering rates of opioid overdose deaths. However, despite the public outcry regarding opioid abuse, many Americans still live with an opioid use disorder.
What Are Opioids?
The term ‘opioid’ refers to medications or drugs that interact with opioid receptors to produce effects like morphine. In the proper medical setting, they are most typically used for pain management and sometimes even anesthesia. If you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed or major surgery, chances are you were prescribed opioids to offset the pain during your recovery and took them as directed with no problem or dependency.
Unfortunately, the use of prescription painkillers can be a very slippery slope, and dependence or full-blown addiction is not uncommon. People who abuse opioids can feel relaxed, happy, or euphoric, but these drugs also have many adverse effects that are similar to those of heroin.
Some of the most regularly prescribed and abused opioids are:
- Hydrocodone, known commonly as Vicodin
- Oxycodone, known commonly as Percocet or OxyContin
Opioid abuse is so prevalent today that some doctors no longer prescribe them. There are many ways to tell if someone is addicted to opioids and experiencing opioid use disorder. If you or a loved one are experiencing the signs and symptoms mentioned below, it is very important to seek help and treatment.
What is Opioid Use Disorder?
Opioid Use Disorder is defined as the problematic recurrent use of opioids in a dangerous manner. It can be fatal and is difficult to overcome without professional addiction services. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that nearly 2.1 million Americans had an opioid use disorder.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has clearly laid out the criteria for the diagnosis of opioid use disorder. A person who experiences two or more of the following criteria within a period of one year is said to suffer from opioid use disorder and should seek help from a substance abuse treatment center.
- Opioids are taken in increasing amounts for an extended amount of time
- Persistent desire to cut down or control use accompanied by the inability to do so successfully
- Spending excessive amounts of time obtaining, using, or recovering from opioids
- Strong cravings or desires to use opioids
- Failure to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to recurrent opioid use
- Continued opioid use despite negative social or interpersonal consequences
- Giving up occupational or recreational activities due to opioid use
- Using opioids in a hazardous manner
- Continued opioid use despite negative physical or emotional consequences
- Development of tolerance towards opioids
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when opioids are not taken
These criteria can also be used to determine the severity of an opioid use disorder. Mild opioid use disorder is denoted by 2-3 symptoms, moderate is denoted by 4-5 symptoms, and severe opioid use disorder occurs when a person experiences 6 or more symptoms.
Signs of Opioid Use Disorder
When a person initially begins abusing opioids, they may be able to hide their substance abuse. However, as opioid use disorder progresses, as it usually does, the signs and symptoms become more evident. Although the exact signs and symptoms of opioid use disorder may vary from person to person, there are some behavioral, physical, and cognitive symptoms to look for to determine if you need to seek treatment from a drug addiction program.
- Obtaining multiple prescriptions from different doctors (“doctor shopping”)
- Lying about pain to get more opioids
- Poor work or school performance
- Isolating from friends ad family
- Stealing medications, money, or possessions
- Mood swings
- Risky behaviors
- Changes in appearance and lack of personal hygiene
- Constricted pupils
- Increased itching
- Poor motor skills
- Lack of concentration
- Pale or clammy skin
- Seeming increasingly tired or drowsy
- Impaired judgment
- Poor decision making
- Slowed thinking
- Confused speech
If a person displays any or all of these symptoms and is using opioids, it is worth seeking professional help.
Treating Opioid Use at Fort Behavioral Health
Fort Behavioral Health offers unparalleled drug rehab and counseling services for individuals struggling with substance use disorders. Our unique, individualized approach not only tackles the underlying causes of addiction but also gives our patients the tools they need for lasting recovery. If you or a loved one is ready to give up opioids once and for all, reach out to us today using our secure online form or call us at 844.332.1807.