What are the Signs of Opioid Use?

Over the last decade, the opioid epidemic has touched millions of lives, many in harmful and irreversible ways. Sadly, despite renewed efforts by the medical, mental health, and law enforcement communities to reduce (or in some cases eliminate) the availability of these highly addictive drugs, thousands of people experiment with or become addicted to opioids every day. The process of overcoming opioid addiction is challenging but with help from a treatment center like Rise in Malibu, recovery, and freedom from the harms of opioid use are possible.


What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs responsible for producing various effects in the brain. Opioid drugs work by blocking pain signals from being received by the brain when sent from different areas in the body. Opioids can be prescription medications (generally known as painkillers) or street drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. In addition to blocking pain signals, opioids can also cause feelings of intense relaxation and a “high” that inhibits certain emotions. Unfortunately, users quickly develop a tolerance to and a physical dependence on opioids, making opioid drugs highly addictive and very dangerous.


The most commonly used (and abused) opioids are prescription medications such as OxyContin and Vicodin and the street drugs heroin and fentanyl. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic drug between fifty and one hundred times more potent than morphine.


How do Opioids Impact the Brain?

When someone uses an opioid drug, whether prescription or otherwise, it affects specific neurons (nerve cells) in the brain and throughout the body. These nerve cells, called opioid receptors, are specifically designed to tell the body how to address pain. Specifically, when you experience pain, opioid receptors tell your brain to block pain signals allowing you to feel calm and relaxed.


A drug that can help reduce or entirely eliminate pain is highly beneficial as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. However, the pain-relieving and euphoria-producing effects of opioids are the primary reasons opioids are highly addictive.


What are the Signs of Opioid Use?

Opioid use and misuse affect everyone in different ways. It is also important to remember that many of the signs of opioid use suggest the drug is working for its prescribed purpose. However, with time, the ability for a prescribed dose of an opioid to alleviate pain will dimmish. This process known as tolerance leads someone who has developed (or is developing) an addiction to opioids to take larger and more frequent doses of the drug to achieve desired results. Tolerance and dependency are also reasons why people turn to illicit drugs when they can no longer access prescription medications. Studies indicate many people who struggle with heroin addiction began using heroin after prescription drugs.


Although the signs of opioid use may differ from person to person, there are several common indications that a friend or loved one may be struggling with opioid abuse. These may include sleeping challenges, mood changes, taking opioids when unnecessary or “just in case,” taking more than prescribed, increased isolation, changes in personal hygiene habits, stealing prescriptions or pills, stealing items to get money to buy opioids, new financial problems, diet and weight changes, doctor shopping, legal issues related to drug use and signs of withdrawal when not using.


If you are concerned about a friend or loved one’s opioid use, it is vital to remember that detoxing from opioids alone is not safe. During the early stages of withdrawal from opioids, many people experience powerful withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be dangerous and even fatal. When detoxing without support at an addiction treatment center, it is not uncommon for these withdrawal symptoms to lead to relapse when they become too overwhelming to manage. In some cases, this leads to fatal overdose when substantial doses are taken to rapidly alleviate withdrawal symptoms.


How to Find Opioid Addiction Treatment

The safest and most effective way to achieve lasting sobriety from opioid addiction is with help at a medically assisted detox program. At our luxury rehab in Malibu, the treatment team at Rise in Malibu will help you as you begin your sobriety journey. Recovering from opioid addiction is not easy, but with support and guidance at an opioid addiction treatment center, recovery is within reach. Let us help you. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment programs in Malibu.

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