Addiction Treatment
Addiction Treatment

5 Signs You Need Treatment for Opiate Addiction

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Medically reviewed: 01/10/2019
Last updated: 05/13/2019
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

People who start out taking medications for an injury involving pain may eventually find themselves unable to stop using the drug. Data collected by the U.S. National Library of Medicine shows as much as nine percent of Americans reported abusing opiate drugs like heroin and prescription pain relievers within their lifetimes. Considering how addictive pain relief medications can be, it’s really no surprise so many people become dependent, and eventually addicted to pain pills.

Most all prescription pain relievers belong to a class of narcotic drugs known as opiates. As with any narcotic drug, the potential for dependency and addiction is extremely high. Once addicted, getting treatment for opiate addiction as soon as possible can help prevent unwanted life consequences from becoming a reality. Treatment for opiate addiction addresses the specific physical and psychological problems that an opiate addiction can bring.

If you suspect you or someone you know may need treatment for opiate addiction, here are five signs to watch out for –

1. Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

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If you experience withdrawal symptoms, you need opiate addiction treatment.

With ongoing use, the body naturally develops a tolerance for opiate drug effects. As a person’s tolerance level increases, the body becomes more and more dependent on the drug.

When the body’s dosage needs go unmet, withdrawal symptoms start to develop. Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Aches and pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Strong drug cravings

Treatment for opiate addiction includes various medication therapies designed to relieve opiate withdrawal symptoms.

2. Drug-Seeking Behaviors

Addiction involves both a physical and psychological dependency, so the body and the mind crave the drug. As opiate addiction develops, a person gradually devotes increasing amounts of time and energy to obtaining and using drugs.

Drug-seeking behaviors may see a person doing things he or she would not normally do. In effect, a person’s normal priorities and sense of right and wrong take a backseat to the addiction. Treatment for opiate addiction helps a person replace this drug-seeking lifestyle with healthy, productive goals and activities.

3. Changes in Cognitive Function

As opiate drugs work as central nervous system depressants, drug effects cause brain and body functions to slow down. Over time, impaired cognitive processes start to affect a person’s ability to function normally.

Symptoms of cognitive impairment can take the form of:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression symptoms
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Short attention span

Once a person receives needed treatment for opiate addiction, many of these symptoms will subside with ongoing abstinence from the drug.

4. Physical Changes

Physical signs of opiate addiction become progressively worse the longer a person uses. According to Semel Institute, an opiate’s ability to slow central nervous system functions has far-reaching effects throughout the body.

Physical changes may include:

  • Constipation
  • “Nodding out” or brief lapses in consciousness
  • Persistent feelings of fatigue
  • Sweating episodes

Treatment for opiate addiction is designed to help the body heal from opiate’s damaging effects.

5. Loss of Control

When left untreated, a person’s obsession with getting and using opiates starts to affect other areas of his or her life. With time, relationship conflicts develop, work performance suffers and financial problems start to mount.

Treatment for opiate addiction provides recovering addicts with the type of supports and guidance needed to repair damaged relationships and restore stability in their lives.