It can be hard for a person to spot signs of opiate addiction once addiction takes hold. Prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin, Demerol and fentanyl work in much the same way as heroin, so signs of opiate addiction can be just as difficult to spot for someone who’s actively using.
While it can be easy to attribute an opiate abuse problem to the physical effects of the drug, addiction encompasses both a physical and a psychological component. According to Harvard Health Publications, the brain’s nerve receptors learn to adapt to the damaging effects of opiates over time; and so do the cognitive and emotion-based centers of the brain.
These ongoing developments account for why it’s so difficult to spot signs of opiate addiction in your everyday life. Being able to spot these signs early on can go a long way towards preventing a bad situation from getting so much worse.
Signs of Opiate Addiction
The effects of opiates gradually diminish the brain’s functional capacity over time. These changes inevitably affect the body’s overall health, according to the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders.
Since opiates act as central nervous system depressants, constipation-related conditions tend to develop and grow more severe as opiate addiction progresses. Opiates also disrupt the brain’s chemical system, which soon gives rise to sleep problems and eventual insomnia.
Other health-related signs of opiate addiction can take the form of sexual dysfunction, fatigue and restlessness as the brain’s chemical system skews further and further off balance.
Anyone who’s abused prescription painkillers for any length of time has likely experienced bouts of withdrawal. During withdrawal, fluctuations in mood, depression and anxiety develop and persist until another dose of opiates is taken.
As addiction grows more severe, a person runs a very real risk of developing full-blown disorders, such as clinical depression, panic attacks or generalized anxiety disorder. With continued opiate abuse, this sign of opiate addiction can actually make an existing addiction problem that much worse.
Changes in Lifestyle
Opiate addiction most affects a person’s thinking and behaviors, warping his or her values, thinking processes and motivations to the point where getting and using the drug takes precedence over everything else. In turn, these changes impair a person’s sense of judgment and reason driving him or her make poor choices.
Choices made tend to impact important life areas and so one’s quality of life will likely take a turn for the worse. Changes in lifestyle may include:
- Broken relationships, separation or divorce
- Financial difficulties
- Legal problems, such DUIs
- Problems at work or job loss
Compared to drugs like heroin, prescription painkillers may seem like a “safe” alternative, but they’re not. The destructive effects of prescription opiate abuse are no less devastating than heroin once addiction takes hold.
Signs of opiate addiction will only become increasingly worse when left untreated. This means, the sooner a person gets needed treatment help the better.