Prescription opioids are often prescribed because they are effective for relieving moderate to severe levels of pain. When taken as directed, the medication can manage pain for a short amount of time. When long-term use is needed, patients need to be screened and monitored to ensure a physical dependency doesn’t develop – as that can lead to opioid addiction.
When patients who have developed a physical dependency stop talking prescription opioids, they can go through withdrawal, which includes symptoms like restlessness, insomnia, muscles and bone pain, cold flashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. When taken improperly, like in large doses or with alcohol, an overdose can occur and result in death.
It’s clear that prescription opioid use can be incredibly dangerous, even when taken correctly. If you are concerned about your loved one developing an addiction to their medication, there are signs you can look out for.
The Phases of Prescription Drug Addiction
There are four stages of drug addiction that can help you determine if someone is taking their medication inappropriately. There are distinct signs associated with each stage.
Phase one happens when someone is on the road to addiction and decides to take their medication for a non-medical use. They may take the medication more often than prescribed, take pills that are not prescribed to them, or take more than the recommended dose.
Phase two involves regular misuse. This phase leads to eventual addiction because it’s when a person builds up a tolerance for whatever they’re taking, so they need to keep increasing the dosage to experience the same effect.
The third phase is abuse. This is when misuse becomes chronic. At this stage, the prescription drug abuser is likely to develop relationship problems, miss work, or have difficulty meeting other responsibilities. The warning signs of addiction tend to pop up, which include preoccupation with the drug, depression, cravings, fatigue, and irritability when the drug is not used. These withdrawal symptoms are indicative of physical dependence.
When physical dependence and psychological dependence are both present, a person has entered the final stage of prescription drug addiction. The physical dependence, as mentioned, refers to the withdrawal symptoms an abuser is likely to experience. The psychological dependence refers to the compulsion to keep using the drug despite any potential or real consequences.
Top Signs of Prescription Opioid Addiction
The physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms of addiction are likely to impact a person’s everyday life by affecting their relationships and ability to gainfully work. Noticing the initial signs and seeking treatment as early as possible is the best way to prevent a spiral that results in overdose or death.
The physical symptoms are often the most noticeable because they can be difficult for an abuser to hide. While the symptoms vary from person to person, the most common early symptoms of prescription opioid addiction include the following:
- Decreased appetite
- Physical agitation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Improved alertness
- Increase sensitivity to sensory stimuli
- High blood pressure
- Increased energy
- Increase heart rate
If the opioids are abused with another drug or alcohol, the physical symptoms are likely to worsen significantly, and the user could require medical attention.
A person addicted to prescription opioids is likely to experience a number of psychological highs and lows in a very short amount of time. You may notice the person is experiencing:
- Improved self-esteem
- Increased general anxiety
- Lowered motivation
The type of medication they are taking can also impact the severity of the symptoms experienced.
As with the physical signs, it’s likely you’ll notice the behavioral symptoms of someone suffering from a drug problem. Signs include:
- Using opioids for longer or taking more than prescribed
- Spending large amounts of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the drug
- Unsuccessfully attempting to decrease the amount taken
- Abandoning important activities
If you believe your loved one is suffering from a prescription opioid addiction, there are resources that may be able to help. You can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), where you can be provided with information on local assistance and support.
It’s possible you may be able to show your loved one’s doctor or the pharmaceutical company is responsible for their addiction. When serious drugs like opioids go unmonitored or are not tested properly, the consequences can be serious. Our lawyers in West Virginia are here to help victims recover compensation for what they’ve been through and restore order in their lives. For more information about the benefit of legal representation, contact us.