There are many substances and even behaviors to which people can become addicted, each with a number of destructive effects on one’s health, behavior, and overall life. Over the years, the rates of abuse of certain drugs wax and wane as the trends of substance abuse evolve. Recently, the United States has been hit by a major epidemic of drug abuse and addiction, especially with regard to opiate narcotics. Opiates are synthetic substances that are derivative of the opium obtained from the opium poppy; common opiates include oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Zohydro) as well as a number of others that are typically used to treat moderate to severe chronic pain.
Although opiates offer an improved quality of life to those who would have to deal with debilitating pain without these powerful narcotics, opiates are very powerful and notoriously addictive. In fact, a number of opiate addicts became addicted to these medications after being prescribed opiates for legitimate conditions; over time, they increase the dosage on their own volition and the situation becomes such that they experience painful withdrawal symptoms without an exceptionally high dose of opiates. However, many opiate addicts developed dependency after illegally buying prescription painkillers off the street, abusing them recreationally rather than using them to treat a medical condition. As a result, it’s been estimated that there are as many as 12 million Americans abusing prescription pain medications, though rates of painkiller addiction have been steadily declining as many individuals have switched to cheaper and more widely available alternatives such as heroin.
Oftentimes family members, spouses, and friends have a front row seat to the deterioration and destruction of an opiate-addicted loved one. They watch helplessly as the addict continues on the path of active addiction, sacrificing their financial independence, employment opportunities and prospects, and even their relationships in the process. Though not a failsafe plan, staging an intervention for an addicted loved one is a common strategy for encouraging an addict to receive addiction treatment in order to overcome chemical dependency. However, before an intervention can occur it’s important to be able to determine with a fair amount of certainty whether a loved one is, in fact, suffering from opiate addiction. As such, here are seven common signs of opiate addiction.
Extreme Lethargy and Lack of Energy
Individuals who are addicted to and under the influence of opiate painkillers often display a pronounced drowsiness, lethargy, and a total lack of energy. This can be subtle with an addict simply appearing to lack motivation, or this can be as prominent as the individual drifting in and out of consciousness, often called “nodding out” by members of the opiate-abusing community, even while standing up. Even if this drowsiness is brought to the individual’s attention, he or she will likely still be unable to control it and continue to intermittently doze.
Being Unreliable and Flakey
When an individual suffers from addiction to opiates, his or her life revolves around seeking and consuming the drug in order to keep withdrawal symptoms at back and makes them frequently run late for appointments or other events to which they had been planning to attend. This can occur either from being too intoxicated on opiates to remember they needed to be somewhere or because obtaining their substance of choice took longer than they expecting, causing them to miss other important obligations or events. What’s more, this pronounced unreliability is pervasive, causing them to be late or absent much more often than not. It’s not uncommon for this to lead opiate addicts to become increasingly absent from work or school, eventually resulting in the loss of employment or dropping out of school.
Distracted and Inattentive
As mentioned previously, substance abuse is the primary and most important concern of addicts, especially when the substance to which one is addicted is an opiate. Due either to cravings or intoxication, those who are addicted to opiates typically seem disinterested in their surroundings and are often very distracted. They can abruptly lose focus in a conversation, participating very little in social activities and conversations with individuals who do not share their addictions.
Possible related to some of the previous signs, opiate addicts are frequently forgetful. In fact, this forgetfulness can be quite severe, forgetting things like loved ones’ birthdays, important meetings and appointments, or even something they’re about to say in conversation. This is a result of opiate addicts’ constant fixation and preoccupation with opiates.
Slow and Uncoordinated Movement
When under the influence of opiates, addicts’ movements tend to be noticeably slow. In fact, if they are extremely intoxicated they may appear as if they are in slow motion or walking like an astronaut on the moon. And whereas sober individuals move slowly in order to be more careful and exercise caution, opiate addicts’ slow movements are very uncoordinated and even clumsy. As a result, it’s easy for them to trip and fall or knock things over, making a mess of their surroundings. They may try to clean up messes that they make, but their lack of energy and sleepiness make it incredibly difficult.
Sudden Financial Change
Most drugs don’t cost very much for a single dose; however, as addicts require several large doses throughout a single day, sustaining an opiate addiction quickly becomes so expensive as to require more money than they’re able to make by working. Opiate addicts will often spend virtually all of their money—even money meant for more important things like paying one’s mortgage or rent, child support, or for the electric bill—on opiates, which will result in their quickly becoming financially destitute. Conversely, it’s not uncommon for opiate addicts to begin selling drugs in order to make their habit less expensive; as a result, the addict may suddenly have much more money than he or she used to have, but doesn’t appear to actually be earning it.
As a result of needing more money to sustain their drug habits than they’re able to make by working, opiate addicts will frequently resort to criminal behavior in order to increase their substance abuse budget. This typically takes the form of stealing from loved ones, robbery and burglary, forgery, and so on. More often than not, addicts committing such crimes get caught and, consequently, will begin having legal troubles as they face charges for their crimes.
There are numerous signs and symptoms of being addicted to opiate narcotics, ranging from physical to behavioral and even social. Although variable from one addict to the next, the signs mentioned above comprise a general overview of the most common manifestations of opiate addiction in others.
If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to opiates or another substance, the Palm Beach Institute is here to help. We have a team of caring, experienced addiction specialists available to help those in need in overcoming dependency through through an effective recovery program at our facility. Don’t wait—call us today and begin the journey to a new, healthy life free from the many devastating effects of addiction.