Why is Prescription Opioid Abuse So Common?

Some research suggests more than ten million Americans (of all ages and demographics) have a substance use disorder based on their dependency or addiction to a prescription opioid. Because each drug products different effects on the user, it can sometimes be challenging to determine if a friend or loved one struggles with prescription opioid addiction. Recognizing the signs of prescription drug abuse early can ensure you receive the help and support you need to get well.


What are Prescription Opioids?

Opioid drugs are a specific class of drugs made from naturally occurring elements found in the opium poppy plant. Depending on the drug, prescription opioids are made directly from the plant itself or in labs using the same manufactured ingredients with the same chemical structure as the plant. Prescription opioids are drugs used as medications to help relieve pain and induce a sense of calm and relaxation. Typically, prescription opioids are used in medical settings to manage moderate to severe pain. It is important to remember that sensations produced by opioid drugs can quickly lead to dependency and addiction. This can be dangerous and is one of the reasons opioids are frequently linked to overdose and death.


Why is Prescription Opioid Abuse So Common?

Prescription drugs are explicitly designed to impact the function of the brain and various body systems. These changes are necessary to manage pain or reduce the presence of specific symptoms. These changes are accomplished by altering how the brain’s reward system functions, making it harder to “feel good” without taking the drug.


Eventually, it becomes difficult, even impossible, to feel the same effects felt at the initial dose. To accommodate intense cravings for the drug’s effects, someone addicted to prescription drugs will take larger and larger amounts to feel the same “high” or sense of relief. Once you stop using the drug, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms often occur. In some cases, someone struggling with an addiction to prescription opioids will turn to other (non-prescription) drugs when they can no longer access their prescription leading to addictions to powerful “street drugs” like heroin.


What are the Signs of Prescription Opioid Abuse?

Many struggles with opioid addiction begin with prescription opioid use. Doctors prescribe an opioid to help manage pain stemming from many possible sources. Because prescription opioids are highly addictive and frequently misused, most prescriptions for these drugs are for a short duration. During this time, many of the signs of prescription opioid abuse may also be the desired symptoms of proper use, making it challenging to separate use from abuse. For example, indications of appropriate use such as euphoria or increased sedation are both desired effects and signs of abuse.


It can also be challenging to separate use from abuse because the signs and symptoms of prescription opioid abuse look different from drug to drug and person to person. However, some abuse signs are often seen across all substances and may point to the need for comprehensive addiction treatment to safely detox and achieve lasting sobriety.


Signs of prescription opioid abuse can be separated into three categories; physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Suppose a friend of a loved one struggles with an addiction to prescription opioids. They may experience physical symptoms such as breathing difficulties, skin sores, heart problems, digestive problems, diet or weight changes, difficulties with new or worsening medical problems, problems sleeping, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using.


Behavioral changes that often accompany prescription opioid abuse are increased isolation, legal and financial problems related to drug abuse, mood swings, irritability, engaging in drug-seeking behaviors, poor judgment, stealing or forging prescriptions, and doctor shopping. Typical emotional symptoms connected to prescription drug abuse may include anxiety, stress, depression, cognitive decline, and psychotic symptoms.


How to Find Comprehensive Residential Treatment for Prescription Opioid Abuse

Reaching out for help to overcome prescription opioid abuse is the first step on a journey to freedom from the hold of addiction. Let us help you take the first steps as you start over and begin your journey towards a future free from drugs. Contact Rise in Malibu to learn more about programs at our luxury addiction treatment center in California.

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