Opioids have, in recent times, become some of the most (if not the most) abused drugs in many parts of the world. They can either be in the form of prescription drugs or non-prescription drugs. In the case of prescription drugs, they are used for relieving chronic pain, especially resulting from surgical procedures, injury, accidents, cancer, sickle cell, and anemia.

Over and above relieving pain, they are known to have feel-good effects, which is actually one of the major reasons for their popularity with recreational users. Some of the commonly abused opioids include:

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Buprenorphine

Opioid addiction has become a major problem mainly due to the relative ease of obtaining them, whether through prescription or illegal means. Many people get hooked on opiates as prescription drugs after starting out innocently and genuinely. This is mainly due to the ability of the drugs to modify the normal functioning of the nerve cells in the brain. Since the nerve cells are responsible for the production of natural painkillers.

Opioid Addiction Symptoms

When opioids are introduced into the system, they mimic the action of the nerve cells by introducing artificial endorphins. Since the nerve cells no longer produce endorphins, they end up regenerating, in which case the body will become dependent upon the artificial endorphins and not the normal functioning of the nerve cells. This is after an individual has been taking the drugs for a prolonged period of time.

Regular use of the drugs may result in tolerance, in which case the effects of the drugs would be diminished. In most cases, many people go ahead and increase the dose in order to achieve the desired results rather than consult a doctor for alternatives. Note that at this time, an individual would take these drugs in effort to prevent or assuage the withdrawal symptoms.

While it may be a bit of a herculean task to determine when an individual is addicted to these drugs, especially if they are prescribed in hospitals, you could have to keep a keen eye on the behavior of the addict.

These are some questions to ask regarding changed behavior of an addict. Have they been taking much more than was prescribed? Are the drugs getting finished faster than they should? Is the individual getting the drugs from varied healthcare providers or even resorting to buying them from illegal sources? Are they cheating about their doses? Do they engage in unethical behavior, such as stealing, just to satisfy their addiction? Are they finding it hard to stop taking the drugs? Do they become irritable when they have not taken the drugs? Depending upon responses to these questions, chances are the individual is addicted to opiates.

Most individuals would also be restless, exhibit hyperactive behavior, impaired physical coordination, shifty or impaired concentration, poor judgment, euphoria that is followed by extreme depression, increased heartbeat which may, ultimately, lead to death or coma, slurred speech and, even, impaired breathing.

So obsessed would the individual be with obtaining the drugs that he or she would not care about other important things in his/her life such as family, work, and social attachments. In quite a number of instances, addicts have been known to give their trusted friends a wide berth as they make new friends within their opiate-abusing circle.