Substance dependency can happen to anyone. No one sets out to become addicted to opioids. It’s a often a slow, insidious process that can creep up on you before you know it. Maybe you were recovering from an injury or surgery, maybe you just enjoyed the high and didn’t think this could happen to you. However your opiate use started, you’ve begun to feel that it’s spinning out of control.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are narcotic drugs that are derived from the seed of the opium poppy. They’re used to formulate prescription medications for relieving moderate to severe chronic or temporary pain. The most common prescription opiates are:
* Oxycodone, under the brand names like Percoset and OxyContin
* Hydrocodone, under the brand names like Lortab and Vicodin
* Codeine, which is found in some prescription-strength cold medications and pills like Tylenol 3
They’re also found in dangerous street drugs like heroin, and in drugs that are used to medically treat opioid addiction, like Methadone. Opioids are used in pain management, and prescriptions are tightly controlled. Unless you have a chronic condition, you’ll usually receive a one month prescription with no refill availability.
In opioid dependency, this is the point where some turn to street drugs. They’re cheaper and easy to find. They can also be mixed with other, more dangerous substances, and the strength of any given dose is unknown, which can lead to overdose or death.
Signs That You’re Slipping into Dependency
Two things happen when you use an opiate-based narcotic. First, you’ll get a feeling of euphoria. Your pain is gone, and you have less anxiety. Second, you build up a tolerance to the medication over time. It takes more to give you the same effects if you take it long enough; most dependencies occur in people who take prescriptions for longer than 90 days. You can also become physically dependent without being addicted.
Physical dependence has occurred when you build up a tolerance and need more pills or a stronger prescription to relieve pain. Addiction is occurring when psychical dependence is coupled with psychological or emotional issues when you don’t have access to your medication. You may become dependent without realizing it. Others around you may even notice a problem before you do. However, there are definite signs of a burgeoning addiction. Here are a few of the most common.
- You think about your medication obsessively. If you find yourself looking at the clock, wondering if it’s time to take your next dose or actively anticipating it even when you’re not in pain, there may be a problem.
- You take more than your prescribed dosage or you take it more often than directed.
- You begin to feel symptoms of withdrawal like mood swings, nausea, and headaches if you skip a dose.
- You go to a different doctor for a prescription if your own doctor refuses to give you a refill. This is known as “doctor shopping”.
- You start looking for other sources of medication, such as online pharmacies, stealing pills from the prescription of a relative or friend, or using street drugs.
- You find reasons to go to the emergency room, or may intentionally hurt yourself, in order to get a prescription.
- You’re taking your prescription long after you’ve recovered from the original injury.
- You become angry if someone expresses concern or mentions your drug use.
Keeping Your Pain Meds From Becoming a Problem
Nearly 80 percent of people who become addicted to heroin started out with prescription pain medications. The opioid crisis has become so wise-spread and taken so many people who wouldn’t ordinarily be associates with drug addiction that some are afraid to use any narcotic-based pain medications at all. This leads to a lot of unnecessary suffering.
You don’t have to be afraid to use medication to control severe pain if you also use common sense. First of all, know if you’re in a high-risk demographic. Women tend to be more susceptible to opioid addiction than men, and a tendency can be genetic. If you have close family members who have drug or alcohol use issues, you may be at a higher risk of dependence yourself. You’re also more likely to become addicted if you have a history of substance abuse or if you’re a smoker.
Take your prescription medications only as directed by your doctor, and stop taking them when your original prescription is depleted. For all but the most severe or chronic pain, you shouldn’t need them for more than a week or two. If you need further pain management, look for other options like physical therapy, chiropractic, or acupuncture.
The Signs of Drug Addiction in a Loved One
You may be on the outside of addiction looking in. Often, we can tell if something is going on with someone we’re close to. Is your loved one exhibiting erratic behavior, outbursts of anger, or mood swings? Is there are change in their eating or sleep patterns? They may also become preoccupied with taking their medication, mention it often, or become defensive if you try to talk to them about it.
Where Can You Go For Help?
There are a number of options for drug treatment, both public and private. If your drug use is severe or long-term, you may find success in a residential rehab. Those with moderate or new dependencies can opt for out-patient treatment. This is also a viable option if you have work or family obligations that make being in a live-in drug addiction facility difficult. The key to success is finding a treatment option that provides ongoing support, that works for your home and financial situation, and that you go into it with the right mindset.
We’re Here For You
Are you abusing opioids, or have you noticed the signs of dependency in a family member? If you think you or someone close to you needs help to overcome drug addiction, our counselors are here to talk to you 24/7. Just call 877-978-3148 any time to get the process started.