All opiates bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system. As they bind to these receptors, the user’s experience of pain is reduced. However, the reduction of pain is not the only result. People can also experience feelings of euphoria or a sense of well-being.
Opioids are prescribed by doctors to treat chronic pain. At other times, opioids are prescribed after surgery. A doctor may prescribe an opiate to speed the return to normal activities after a major surgery. Unfortunately, these prescription medications are highly addictive. Even those who use them as prescribed can succumb to abuse and addiction.
Some of the common types of opioids include:
Of these drugs, fentanyl is the most potent and dangerous. Although, this does not negate the danger of the remaining opioids. Another opioid is heroin. Heroin is a “street” drug that is manufactured from morphine. One of the reasons that the opioid epidemic has become so deadly is that drug manufacturers add fentanyl to heroin. The addiction to opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and other prescription pain medications for the management of pain has ravaged the nation. In fact, the issue has grown so much that it is often referred to as the “opiate epidemic”.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from 2016 to 2017 in 45 states.
Signs of Addiction and Withdrawal
With the staggering numbers of people abusing opioids, many people have begun to ask about signs of opiate use. If you suspect that your loved one is abusing opiates, there are signs that you can look for. Before tackling the symptoms, it is important to understand the different avenues for how people end up abusing opioids. Some people begin using them recreationally by borrowing, stealing, or buying the drugs from other people. While others start out taking prescribed medication as directed, but quickly develop a tolerance and end up abusing their medications.
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There are several physical signs of opiate abuse or addiction. When determining if a loved one is abusing opioids, you should look for signs of euphoria, sedation, tiredness, confusion, constricted pupils, nodding off, loss of consciousness, and slowed breathing. While these are the general physical signs of prescription opioids, there are more specific ones for heroin usage.
When someone is using heroin, you should look for nausea, vomiting, slowed breathing, itching, and drowsiness. Other signs include flushed skin, constricted pupils, and dry mouth. All opioids result in constipation, so another sign of opioid abuse is the use of laxatives. Long-term use of heroin can result in skin infections and lowered immunity which results in frequent illness.
Behavioral and Lifestyle Signs
Many people will hide their physical signs of opioid abuse and addiction. As a result, it may be hard for you to identify these specific signs. On the other hand, you may notice behavioral or lifestyle signs. A person abusing opioids may withdraw from school or work. They often lose interest in previously enjoyed activities. They may begin to hang out with different people and neglect their appearance. Regarding attitude, many will become angry or irritated. At other times, they may appear anxious, nervous, secretive, or deceptive.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Opioids
Other signs that can help you identify opioid abuse are withdrawal symptoms. While many people can hide the physical signs of use, it is harder to hide the physical symptoms of withdrawal. When someone is dependent on opioids, they will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms after a short period of time without using. When a person experiences withdrawal from opioids, they develop flu-like symptoms. These symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting, extreme anxiety, and sweating.