Beware: These Are Signs of Opioid Dependence

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(DGIwire)   Nobody intends to become an addict…but it happens.  Often, opioid addiction begins from good intentions. Imagine:  It could start with some kind of accident that results in severely broken bones. Maybe the surgery goes well, but the surgeon suggests that the patient stay in the hospital for a little while, just to ensure proper healing.

However, the patient is in constant pain, and the only thing that helps him fall asleep is pressing the morphine button. This is okay—after all, the nurses told the patient to press the button when in pain. That’s why it’s there. But suddenly, when released from the hospital, things take a turn.

The doctor sends the patient home with a painkiller prescription and clear instructions on how many times a day he should take the pill. The doctor also says that if the pain is unbearable, he can take an extra pill. The word “unbearable” means different things to different people, and when the patient is in the comfort of his own home, there’s no one but himself to regulate his painkiller intake. Suddenly, he finds himself running out of his prescription a few days early. Next time, it’s a week before a refill is permitted. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to see where this is going. Through no fault of his own, this person has likely developed dependence on opioids.

People of all ages, from all walks of life, can develop opioid dependency, and it can look very different from person to person. InReach, a website and mobile app dedicated to helping people deal with opioid dependency, lists some universal warning signs to help determine if someone is on the fast track to dependency:

  1. Increasing opioid use over time to achieve the same effect.
  2. Feeling unwell if one has to go without the opioid.
  3. Personality changes and shifts in energy, mood and concentration.
  4. Avoiding family and friends.
  5. Continuing opioid use when pain relief is no longer needed.
  6. Spending large amounts of time planning, and sometimes travelling, to get more opioid, whether from doctors or dealers.
  7. Neglecting appearance, diet and personal hygiene.
  8. Calling in sick to work or school more than usual.
  9. Finding that senses and emotions are stronger and more stimulating than before.
  10. Forgetting events that have taken place and experiencing blackouts.

View of business people consoling colleague.Battling addiction is very difficult, so it is important to recognize the symptoms.  Then, if necessary, if you recognize any of the symptoms in yourself or another, it is time to reach out to a medical professional to get help and determine the appropriate treatments and resources available to support recovery.

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