Opiate addiction often develops over time. In some instances, the abuse of opiates is intentional, as may be the case if someone is purposely seeking illegal narcotics like opium or heroin. An addiction to opiates can also be unintentional and stem from the use of prescription medications like oxycodone and codeine for legitimate pain. Regardless of why a dependence develops, there are certain signs that may suggest someone has an opiate addiction.
Making Excuses to Get Refills
Patients who were prescribed pain medication for post-surgical or chronic pain may reach a point where they feel they can’t go about their day without pain meds. This may lead a patient to make excuses to their doctor to continue receiving refills.
Developing a Tolerance to Opiates
If opiates are used too long, a tolerance may develop. When this happens, larger amounts of opiates are needed to experience the same benefits. This may lead to false claims that pain is getting worse to obtain a stronger dose or attempts to convince friends or family members to seek opiate prescriptions for non-existent aches and pain to avoid making a doctor or pharmacist suspicious.
Visible Withdrawal Symptoms During Attempts to Stop
Some people may make an honest attempt to stop using opiates on their own. If the body is already used to opiates both physically and psychologically, however, withdrawal symptoms, such as tremors, sweating, and increased anxiety or irritability, may be clearly noticeable during such attempts.
Changes In Usual Behaviors
Opiates work on receptors in the brain and trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that over-stimulates the brain’s reward system. This change in brain chemistry may result in changes to usual behaviors that may include:
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- An inability to concentrate on certain tasks
- Unexplained mood swings, especially when doses wear off
Withdrawing From Social Activities
As an opiate addiction becomes increasingly problematic, some individuals purposely avoid social situations where they may be confronted about visible changes in their behavior. Social withdrawal can also be due to an increased focus on getting more opiates or a fear of missing the next dose. This can also lead to a failure to meet work obligations and neglect of family responsibilities like picking children up from school or running errands.
Even with opiate prescription rates decreasing, addiction remains at epidemic levels. Still, there may be hesitation to seek treatment due to concerns about potentially serious withdrawal symptoms. An appealing alternative to traditional detoxification is rapid detox, an accelerated process that takes place in a supervised setting under sedation.