Often, opiate addiction starts harmlessly. An opiate painkiller is prescribed by a doctor to help mitigate the uncomfortable side effects of a major injury or a serious surgery. And so long as it is not used for more than a day or two, an opiate can indeed be an effective form of pain management.
Opiates can quickly become addictive, though. They bind to the pain receptors in the brain and can provide feelings of intense pleasure—but in order to replicate those feelings of pleasure, increasingly high doses of opiates are required. This can cause some people to begin searching out illegal opiates, and in many cases to descend into harder and more powerful opiate drugs—like heroin.
Recovery from heroin is possible. No matter the strength or power of the addiction, rehabilitation is always attainable. If you have a friend or loved one struggling with opiate addiction, you can offer your encouragement and support as they seek detox and rehab. First, though, it is helpful to understand some of the telltale signs of opiate addiction and abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Addiction
Addiction to opiates is often attended by mood disorders and psychological side effects. Just a few of these can include:
Physical symptoms can also be present. A few of these include:
- Improved alertness
- Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli
- Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure
- Decreased appetite
- Sleeping disorders
- Physical agitation
Additionally, those who become addicted to opiates will often experience some behavioral symptoms, some of which can be quite evident to close friends and loved ones. Some of these possible behavioral symptoms include:
- Opiates are used for a longer period of time, or in a higher amount, than was originally prescribed or intended
- An attempt is made to decrease the dose of opiates taken, but this attempt is unsuccessful
- Large amounts of time are spent trying to obtain and use opiates
- Important activities, hobbies, or relationships are abandoned in favor of opiate use
Health Side Effects of Opiate Addiction
If you observe these symptoms in your friend or loved one, it is important to take quick action and urge detox and rehab. Opiate addiction, when untreated, can risk extreme medical complications. Some of these include fatigue, constipation, breathlessness, confusion, and chest pain. In some cases, opiate addiction can even lead to death, especially when opiates are used in conjunction with other narcotics.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal from opiates, meanwhile, can come with some extreme risks of its own—including any or all of the following side effects:
Chills and cold sweat
How to Help Someone with Opiate Addiction
Again, the good news is that recovery is possible. The first step is to detox, ridding the system of these harmful and habit-forming substances.
As you seek to help someone with opiate addiction, it is imperative to help them find a detox facility. Home detox is simply too dangerous, especially with all of the withdrawal effects mentioned above. Finding a clinical detox facility, with around-the-clock medical oversight, is key to safe opiate detox.
And detox is the critical first step toward a life of recovery. Start the process today, either for yourself or for a loved one. Contact the New Start team and inquire about our opiate detox services today!