Addiction can sometimes start accidentally; an individual may come to see the signs of addiction gradually, or perhaps realize all of a sudden that they have a serious medical problem. This is often how opiate addiction starts. Frequently, opiates are prescribed by a doctor or chronic pain specialist, and addiction develops over time. Many headlines have been written about America’s opiate addiction epidemic and the surprising way in which opiate addiction often begins—not as a habit for any illicit “street” drug but as a struggle with prescription painkillers. Of course, a struggle with prescription painkillers can often lead to trouble with harder opiates, including heroin.
No matter how your struggle with opiate addiction begins, it is important to know that there is hope for healing and recovery. This is Above It All’s message for anyone who battles opiate addiction: It is never too late to seek help and achieve freedom from addiction. The first step is to understand exactly what you are up against—how opiate addiction works, and how recovery is possible.
Understanding Opiate Addiction
Though prescription pain pills and heroin are making headlines on the topic of opiate addiction, the truth is that they are just a couple of substances in a huge category of drugs and narcotics. What unites them all is that they are made from opium, which comes from poppy plants. Certainly, prescription opiates (such as Vicodin and Oxycontin) are the most common, and even those who take opiate painkillers according to their prescription can end up battling addiction. With that said, everyone has a unique story, and opiate addiction can begin in any number of ways.
Opiate addiction is sometimes said to be particularly hard to treat. That is because opiates produce a major high. They are also highly effective in managing chronic pain. Over time, though, it requires higher and higher doses to maintain that high; without these large opiate doses, it can be difficult or impossible to feel anything like happiness or euphoria, and withdrawal from opiates can cause a deep depression. This is a form of emotional and mental dependence that requires clinical intervention to treat.
Signs of Opiate Addiction
There are some common ways in which opiate addiction manifests itself. Among them:
- Mood swings
- Brief bursts of euphoria
- Anger or irritability
- Muscle spasms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Forging prescriptions
- Stealing opiates from a friend
- Taking prescription painkillers even after the initial pain has subsided
- Blowing off professional or familial responsibilities
- Lying or making excuses for opiate use
- Social isolation or withdrawal
In the end, the effects of opiate addiction can be damaging to one’s health, finances, career, relationship and sense of self-worth; in some cases, it can even be deadly. The good news is that nobody who is struggling with opiate addiction is beyond help: Recovery is always possible through compassionate care and clinical intervention.
How to Help a Loved One with Opiate Addiction
What do you do when you witness some of these signs and symptoms of opiate addiction in a friend or loved one? The first thing to remember is that you cannot “fix” anyone, and it is not your job to try. Your job is to offer encouragement and support—to let your loved one know of your concerns, but also to be an ambassador of hope and recovery.
In a loving and empathetic tone—never an accusatory one—let your loved one know that you care, and that you are worried. You might try using I phrases: I have concerns about your health; I love you and want to see you get better; I feel like your opiate use is a problem. If your loved one does not wish to talk about it, be respectful of that—but make it clear that you are there to listen and to encourage, when they are ready.
Ultimately, make it clear that you want to see your loved one seek treatment—and that you will offer ongoing encouragement and support through that process.
Get Treatment for Opiate Addiction
To be sure, treatment for opiate addiction is just a phone call away. Whether you are struggling with this disease or have seen the warning signs in a loved one, we invite you to contact Above It All today so we can get you in touch with one of our partner facilities. Hope and healing are both more than possible, and they begin with medical intervention. Call today to learn more about our approach to opiate addiction recovery.Let the beauty of nature assist in your recovery. Call today to learn more about our programs.