There is no question that opioid addiction is at an all-time high in America. Everywhere you look, people are struggling with dependence on all kinds of drugs in the opioid family. This epidemic isn’t reserved for poor, inner-city individuals. Rather, it spans generations, economic status, education, race, and more. There isn’t a single group of people that isn’t affected. For this reason, it is important to recognize the warning signs of addiction in yourself and your friends and family.
Opioid Addiction Starts at the Doctor’s Office
For many, opioid addiction begins with a trip to the doctor. Here’s a classic example:
Hillary, a married mother of one in her late twenties, was experiencing back pain so powerful that she was unable to sleep. She also had trouble keeping up with her young children and active husband. After a doctor’s visit, she was prescribed Vicodin, a powerful opiate. Her doctor failed to warn her about the dangers of opioid addiction and simply told her to follow the directions on the bottle.
After a few weeks, Hillary tried to stop taking the medication that she had been taking daily and had horrible withdrawals. She felt like she had a terrible case of the flu, but even worse. She had no idea what was causing it until she took another Vicodin and realized that her symptoms went away. Scared to withdraw, she started taking the pills regularly again and even upped her dose. Soon, she was running out of what the doctor prescribed to her.
She went to another doctor to try to get more Vicodin and it worked, however, the pharmacy she was filling her script at flagged her and wouldn’t allow her to obtain it. Desperate, Hillary looked online and realized that heroin is incredibly similar to Vicodin, so she ended up contacting a local dealer and getting even more hooked.
The Signs of Opioid Addiction
In the treatment industry, we hear stories like the one above constantly. Patients and doctors alike have no idea how powerfully destructive these drugs can be. In the end, it is up to each individual to educate themselves. Here are some of the top signs of opioid addiction:
- The feeling that you must take an opioid in order to feel “normal”. You may find this occurring after getting a prescription from your doctor for a routine ailment. This is caused by the fact that your body grows accustomed to operating with opioids in it, and if they are suddenly taken away, your body will react.
- Taking more than your prescribed dose. It is essential to take only what the doctor recommends, and never more. In fact, it would be beneficial to take even less than is prescribed. If you notice that you need more and more to achieve the same effect, it signals that a problem is present.
- You have withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the medication. As described above, this is due to the fact that your body has gotten used to working with drugs in it and suddenly taking it away can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, indigestion, sweating, tremors, and even seizures and coma in severe cases. Detox should always be done in a medically supervised environment.
- You find alternate ways to seek more. You might find yourself “doctor shopping” to get the same medication from a variety of different doctors. Or, like in the example above, you may turn to street drugs like heroin to get a similar fix. In either case, this is a bad road to take and help needs to be sought immediately.
If you think you or a loved one are suffering from opioid addiction, it is essential to know what you are up against and get help as soon as possible. With the right treatment, you can get through detox with minimal discomfort and go on to live a healthy life free of opiates.