Opioids are narcotic pain killers that are extremely effective for severe and chronic pain. People who may have once faced debilitating pain have been given the opportunity to engage in their daily lives again and enjoy it, thanks to the relief made possible by opioids.
It is vital, that when patients are given opioids to help with pain, they take them as prescribed. Those who take more than the prescribed dose, or take it longer than its prescribed duration, risk a serious and deadly addiction.
Is My Loved One at Risk for Opioid Addiction?
Not everyone who uses opioids gets addicted to them. Certain risk factors can help you determine if your loved one may be at a higher-than-normal chance of getting addicted to opioids. Below is a list of a few of these risk factors:
- A history of substance abuse
- High-stress levels
- Family and social relationship problems
- Hangs out with drug abusers
- Takes risks
- Is a heavy smoker
- Has past legal troubles
- Struggles with anxiety and depression
- Is a teenager or in their early 20s
Technically, anyone can become addicted to opioids, however, the list above may increase one’s likelihood that they will begin to abuse their prescription and possibly obtain more illegally or switch to another drug, like heroin.
There are many things one may begin to notice with their loved one, that can point to an addiction issue. You must be supportive through your loved one’s treatments and try to pay close attention to any changes.
Signs of Opioid Addiction in a Loved One
Here are some of the telltale signs that your loved one may have an opioid problem:
- They take their opioid as a preventive measure
- They take their opioids more often than recommended
- They have severe mood swings
- They seek new doctors to give them the same prescription
- They are concerned about their prescription supply
- They don’t sleep well
- They attempt to borrow medications from other people
- They claim they lost their prescription so they can get more
- They lose weight without trying
- They are suddenly having financial problems
- They ignore personal hygiene
- They isolate themselves
- They have uncontrollable cravings
If you notice some or many of these signs with your loved one, don’t ignore them! Do your best to communicate with them your concerns and be supportive in trying to help them solve these issues.
What do I do if My Loved One is Addicted to Opioids?
If you suspect your loved one is addicted, you must act fast and talk with their doctor. Some patients are pretty good at hiding their addiction from their doctor so they may miss the signs.
Your loved one’s doctor will be able to change the course of their treatment to try to help fight off the addiction as well as keep the chronic pain at bay. This is doable if the patient is willing and takes the medications responsibly, and how they are prescribed.
Don’t miss your opportunity to help your loved one the minute you see the signs. Help save them from further struggling and possible death. There are many options for you and your loved one.
Is My Loved One Addicted or Dependent on Their Pain Medication?
It is important to know the difference between addiction and dependency when talking about pain medication. Dependency is a condition that occurs when a user develops a tolerance to a particular medication over time. Addiction is when users depart from the instructions they were medically given, and increase their dosage or seek other ways of obtaining pain medications.
If your loved one has been routinely taking medication for pain for a long period, it’s vital to understand ways you can support them; learn the effects of painkiller addiction and how you can increase the chances of your loved one staying addiction free.
How Can I Decrease the Risk of Addiction for My Loved One?
As you support your loved one during this time, it is essential to keep these things below in mind to help decrease the risk of addiction
- Making sure your loved one is taking their medication as prescribed is important.
- Make sure your loved one only takes painkillers for the time prescribed. While long-term use of pain medications does not guarantee the development of an addiction, if the drugs are not monitored, your loved one can develop dependency issues.
Mismanagement of pain medications can create strong addictions because they change the chemistry of the brain. The number of nerve receptors for the drug increases, while the body’s ability to create natural painkillers becomes limited. However, even the strongest painkillers don’t have to lead to addiction; they all must be used as recommended.