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Signs of Opiate Addiction
Opiate addiction can be devastating, for the addicted individual as well as for friends and family. If you suspect that you or a loved one might have become addicted to either prescription or recreational opiates, here are the top five signs of opiate addiction and important questions to ask.
Opiate Addiction Cravings
Opiates are highly powerful narcotics, including "heroin, morphine, codeine, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, methadone, and others" (NLM). Depending on the particular drug being abused, a person could become addicted very quickly. Cravings will begin to set in once the individual is addicted. Ask yourself these questions about cravings:
- Do I look forward to taking drugs?
- Do I think about drugs even when I'm not taking them?
- Are there physical or emotional signs that I exhibit when I am not able to take drugs right away?
When the body is introduced to opiates, it begins to crave them, and the person will continue to take drugs. Soon, though, he or she will build up a tolerance to opiates, which will lead to larger and larger doses being injected, consumed, or inhaled. Ask yourself these questions about tolerance:
- Am I taking larger doses of the drug than I used to?
- Does it take more of the drug in order for me to feel the effects?
Tolerance leads to dependency and, according to the DOI, "both physical and psychological dependence on opiates are known to be high." A person who has become dependent on opiates feels like he or she cannot get through a certain period of time without another dose. Ask yourself these questions about dependence:
- Do I need to take drugs to get me through the day?
- Do I depend on drugs to get through something difficult like a hard day at work or a big presentation in school?
- Do I feel like I need drugs rather than just want them?
Addiction Behavioral Changes
Mood swings or other behavioral changes are often strong signs of opiate abuse. Opiates affect the brain's mental processes, and the addiction itself might make the person irritable with others and apathetic toward responsibilities. Ask yourself these questions about behavioral changes:
- Do I treat people in my life differently now, or have I abandoned them for other people who do drugs?
- Do I feel like myself when I'm not doing drugs?
- Do the same things matter to me now that used to matter to me before, or do they matter less?
- Is doing drugs all I care about anymore?
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
If you suddenly stop taking opiates after becoming addicted, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. They can be uncomfortable, even painful, and some people experience them without knowing what they are. Withdrawal from opiates causes some flu-like symptoms (runny nose, fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) which can be confusing. Ask yourself these questions about withdrawal symptoms:
- Have I ever felt sick or flush when I'm not taking drugs?
- Do the discomfort and flu symptoms go away when I start taking them again?
Remember these five signs and your answers to the questions above. If they all seem familiar to your situation, it is likely that you have become addicted to opiates and you should seek treatment 800-839-1663 immediately.