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11 Warning Signs of Prescription Opioid Abuse

Opioid addiction takes about 136 lives each day. Many people think of street drugs, like heroin, when they hear about drugs taking lives. But, prescription medications carry dangerous consequences as well.

Not everybody who abuses opioids dies. Many people struggle with physical and mental health difficulties as a result of their drug use. 

Drug addiction also ruins lives in other ways. People often lose themselves, making it important to intervene if you see signs of opioid abuse in a loved one.

Read on to learn 11 signs of prescription opioid use.

1. Mood Changes

When a person takes opioids, the chemical components bind to Delta, Kappa, and Mu receptors in the brain. The components mimic pain-relieving chemical messengers that we naturally produce. While Kappa receptors offer pain relief, Kappa and Mu receptors drive mood changes that create dependence on the drug by activating the brain’s reward center. 

Because of these chemical changes, you may notice euphoria when a person abuses prescription pain medications. During this state of excitement, the person will seem overjoyed for no apparent reason.

You may notice excessive laughter and chattiness as signs of opioid abuse. While these changes seem pleasant, they do not last. 

As the drug wears off, so does the feeling. This change can result in mental discomfort as the natural mood-boosting chemicals in the body get depleted. This often results in anxiety, depression, or moodiness.

2. Physical Symptoms

These chemical changes also affect the body systems. Physical opioid abuse symptoms include:

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Itching
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Shallow breathing

You may notice a swinging pattern of physical symptoms. Your loved one might seem out of pain and completely fine for bursts of time. Other times, they may display flu-like symptoms, if they start going through withdrawal.

3. Sleep Disturbances

Abusing prescription medication will affect a person’s normal sleep patterns. Taking the medication can lead to euphoric excitability that prevents them from falling asleep. It can also knock them out, making it difficult for them to stay awake even during the day. 

When they cannot get their hands on the medication, withdrawal can also affect their sleep. This can make them want to do nothing except sleep. However, it can also lead to insomnia as the anxiety overwhelms them.

4. Weight Loss

Drug use often affects a person’s appetite. Opioid drugs can curb the person’s hunger, making them eat less than normal.

If it seems like your loved one barely eats anymore, they could need addiction treatment. Nausea and vomiting from taking the opioids or withdrawing from them can also lead to rapid weight loss.

5. Trouble With Employment

Did your loved one recently lose a career they had for years seemingly out of the blue? Or, do they seem to struggle with keeping a job that they love?

This can signal a problem with prescription opioids. The physical and mental changes caused by opioids can make work extremely difficult.

Sleep changes may make waking up for work a challenge. Physical changes might make them feel too sick to work.

Mental disturbances might get them fired. Or, the drug can consume them so deeply that they lose interest in working altogether.

6. Financial Struggles

In the adult world, most people need to work to make money. If they lose their job, or they stop showing up to work, this can create a serious impact on their financial health.

Moreover, they may need to begin paying for prescription drugs if the doctor stops prescribing them. Both ends of this may leave them struggling.

Financial opioid abuse signs include:

  • Late payments
  • Car repossession
  • Loss of their home
  • Inability to buy food, toiletries, and clothing

If you notice a major shift in your loved one’s financial situation, pay attention to other signs of prescription opioid abuse.

7. Shifting Friendships

When a person uses opioids, their friendship circle may change. This often depends on how they get their supply.

If they abuse only what the doctor supplies, then they may not make new friends that supply the drugs. But, if they need it, they may hang out with people who also take on the characteristics of opioid addiction.

Whether or not their friendship circle shifts, the person may not hang out with the sea friends as they did before. This could be because they do not want them to notice their addiction. It could also happen due to their interest in only taking pills and sleeping.

8. Disinterest in Hobbies

Finding the drugs and riding the high consume the opioid addict’s life. They typically gradually stop engaging in hobbies they once loved.

At first, they may only miss events here and there. But, they eventually stop spending time on activities that do not revolve around drug use.

9. Lying

One of the telltale signs of opioid use is lying. The drug tends to turn people to dishonesty for several reasons.

First, they may feel embarrassed about the addiction. So they may create little lies about not feeling well, to get out of work or hanging out with others. This embarrassment shifts to the protection of the habit and the lies will grow.

You may catch them in lies about where they are, what they are doing, and who they are with. You might start to notice that stories never add up with them.

10. Borrowing for Prescription Opioid Abuse

If your loved one ends up addicted to their prescription, they may start running out of their own pills. This will lead them to beg the doctor for more or borrowing prescriptions from others.

11. Stealing

Addicts often steal when the addiction gets bad. They may steal pills or money to buy opioids to feed their habit.

While stealing often begins in the home, they may eventually begin engaging in full-blown criminal activity. This often leads to serious issues with the law if not stopped early on.

Don’t Ignore Signs of Prescription Opioid Abuse

Nobody wants to accuse a loved one of prescription opioid abuse. But, when signs of opioid abuse persist, you should not ignore them. The addiction will ruin their life and may even take it.

Once you recognize the problem, you can assist them in getting the help that they need. Contact us today to begin a treatment plan for your loved one.