Opioid addiction can have a disastrous effect on one’s physical, mental, and emotional health; in some cases, it can even prove fatal. If it’s not treated promptly, opioid addiction can truly do lasting damage to the individual, and it can be shattering to friends and family members, too.
The good news is that treatment does work, and with the proper clinical intervention, opioid rehab is possible. What’s crucial is that first step of seeking out medical care. That’s where opioid education comes in. Everyone should know the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction, and be ready to identify them either in your own life or the life of a loved one.
In this post, we’ll detail some of the ways in which opioid addiction can affect a person—physically, psychologically, and behaviorally. We’ll also take a look at some of the opioid recovery options that are available—ending on a note of possibility and hope.
What is Opioid Addiction?
Before we get into signs and symptoms, let’s step back for a big-picture view. What are opioids? And how does opioid addiction impact the brain?
Opioids are substances derived from opium; these include a number of prescription painkillers, as well as illegal street drugs, like heroin. Opioids work on the brain’s pleasure sensors, producing a feeling of intense wellbeing and euphoria. This euphoria can mitigate any feelings of physical pain.
The problem is that opioids are powerfully addictive—and over time, they can actually make it impossible for the brain to feel any pleasure without increasingly high and frequent doses. This kind of dependence is the primary sign of opioid addiction—though there are several more that we can mention.
Signs of Opioid Addiction
It’s important to note that opioid addiction impacts different people in different ways; the symptoms one person experiences may be a little different than the symptoms someone else experiences. Speaking generally, though, here are some of the most common hallmarks of opioid addiction.
Due to the ways in which opioids interfere with the brain’s pleasure receptors, it should come as no surprise that the psychological effects can be varied—and extreme. Some possibilities include:
- An increase in overall anxiety or jitteriness
- Acute anxiety attacks
- Intense euphoria
- Improved self-esteem
- A decrease in motivation
Opioid addiction can also result in some effects on the physical body. A few to be aware of include:
- Increased alertness
- Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli—including visuals, sounds, etc.
- Constricted blood vessels
- Increased heart rate and/or high blood pressure
- An increase in overall energy levels
- A decrease in appetite
- Physical agitation
- An increase in sexual arousal
- Insomnia, or restlessness while trying to sleep
Finally, note that opioid addiction can impact a person’s actions and behaviors in a number of ways. Here are just a few of them to be aware of.
- Increased secrecy, or trying to keep drug use hidden
- Lying or stealing in order to acquire more drugs
- Needing higher or more frequent doses of opioids just to feel good
- Taking prescription painkillers more often or for longer periods of time than directed
- Taking someone else’s prescription painkillers
- Doctor shopping in order to get more prescriptions
- Being unable to stop using opioids without serious withdrawal effects
- Abandonment of important activities, or negligence of responsibilities
- Losing interest in things that once brought great passion
If you witness any of these signs and symptoms, in yourself or in others, it may be time to seek a clinical intervention.
More Signs of Opioid Addiction: Abuse, Withdrawal, Etc.
Over time, and with regular consumption of opioid drugs, it’s possible that some more serious physical effects can emerge. Some of the most common examples include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
In some cases, abusing opioids can even prove fatal—usually due to either heart failure or respiratory failure. This is even more likely when opioids are abused in conjunction with other dangerous drugs.
Because opioids exert such a strong effect on the body, withdrawal can be painful. Here are a few of the most common withdrawal effects that accompany opioid addiction.
- Intense physical or psychological cravings
- Nausea and stomach pain
- Cold sweats and chills
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Muscle tension
- Shaking or quivering
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Enlarged pupils
- Pain in bones or joints
Help and Treatment for Opioid Addiction
This list of symptoms may seem dire—and it is. The good news is, there is hope available for those who struggle with any or all of these symptoms. Opioid recovery is possible when you seek the proper help and treatment.
The first step is detox—ridding the body and mind of opioids and all their ill effects. It is highly advisable to do this in a controlled clinical setting, where pain and withdrawal effects can be mitigated, and where the risk of accidental overdose is kept in check.
From there, an individualized plan for opioid rehab can be developed. This may involve one-on-one therapy, group sessions, therapeutic activities, and the development of coping skills and relapse prevention strategies.
What’s important is that you find an opioid rehab center that fits your needs—and that you seek treatment as soon as you identify any of these symptoms.
Opioid Treatment from Experience Recovery
At Experience Recovery, we take a clinically proven, data-backed approach to opioid treatment. Everything we do has been proven to be safe and effective. And, we tailor our approach to each client. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy here.
We invite you to learn more about opioid addiction. Continue your opioid education by reaching out to Experience Recovery today—and ask about the options available for opioid rehab and recovery.