Last updated: 04/22/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
It is incredibly difficult to admit to yourself (let alone other people) that you are unable to control your relationship with opioids. This is even more difficult when the opioids you are abusing have been prescribed for you. How dangerous can something be if your doctor prescribes it to you? It hardly seems fair that a physician would put you in the position of dealing with a substance that can lead to such drama.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states between approximately 26.4 million and 36 million people across the globe abuse opioids; roughly 2.1 million people in America struggle with an addiction to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and roughly 467,000 are addicted to heroin. Prescription opioid addiction grows larger every year, showing that the drugs are difficult to regulate for many people.
If you are struggling coming to terms with whether or not you have a full-blown opioid addiction, you may be ignoring symptoms. It isn’t uncommon for people to operate with a lot of denial about their addiction and you wouldn’t be the first person to do so.
Firstly, it is important to understand addiction. You can’t determine whether or not you are an addict until you know what qualifies as addiction.
Addiction is “chronic, relapsing brain disease.” It is recognized as the obsessive seeking of drugs, even when those drugs pose risks to your life and health. The reason that NIDA considers it a brain disease is because drugs actually change the make-up of the brain; they affect the brain’s structure and change how it works. Unfortunately, these changes are often lifelong and can cause both continued addiction and other equally harmful behaviors.
However, it is important to note there are many different beliefs about the causes of addition. This matters because the disagreements about cause mean that there isn’t one solution. When you seek treatment be sure to look into many options until you find the one that can work for you.
Signs of Addiction
As indicated above, addiction involves seeking out and using drugs even when the consequences are negative. In your case, you may be:
- Obsessed with opioids and constantly think of them
- Compulsively engaged in taking opioids over and over again
- Frightened of experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop using opioids
- Unable to control your behavior
- In denial about the problems that using is causing
- Hiding the behavior because people close to you have expressed concerns
- Experiencing blackouts during periods of use
- Experiencing depression
- Feeling anxious/out of control
- Struggling with low self-esteem
All of the above bulleted behaviors are considered common characteristics of addictive behaviors.
The above behaviors are related to addiction in general; there are also more specific sign of opioid addiction.
- Euphoria (feeling high)
- Poor coordination
- Increased pain with higher dosages
In the case of prescribed opioid dependence or addiction, the following behaviors may be present:
- Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions
- Taking larger doses than prescribed
- Excessive changes in mood or hostility
- Increase or decrease in your amounts of sleep
- Unfortunate decision-making
- Appearing to be high—unusually energetic or revved up—or sedated
- Continually “losing” prescriptions, in order to have more prescriptions written
- Seeking prescriptions from numerous doctors
If you are engaging in these behaviors, you need to speak with somebody. You might feel uncomfortable opening up to someone close to you, but a doctor would actually be the most help. You don’t need to go to friends or family immediately. Instead, speak with someone who is both objective and well-trained in addiction.