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Opioid addiction is a healthcare crisis on the national level, but on the personal level, it can devastate the lives of addicted individuals as well as their loved ones. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 130 people die every day in the United States from opioid overdose. While there are less fatal effects of opioid addiction, like relationship problems and depression, they’re still detrimental nonetheless. Whether you’re struggling with prescription painkillers or you suspect a loved one is addicted, learning about opioid addiction signs, effects, and withdrawal symptoms will help you better understand the nature of this disease which is a step towards recovery.
Opioid Statistics in the United States
Opioid use took off in the late 1990s after pharmaceutical companies reassured medical professionals that patients wouldn’t become addicted to prescription opioids. In turn, doctors began prescribing opioids to patients more. The rise of prescription opioids, however, led to widespread diversion, misuse, and the realization that they can be very addictive.
Key statistics from the NIDA’s “Opioid Overdose Crisis” report:
- About 21 to 29 percent of chronic pain patients misuse their prescribed opioids
- Between 8 to 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder (i.e. opioid dependency or addiction)
- An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin
- About 80 percent of heroin users first misused prescription opioids
The opioid crisis has prompted more efforts from government agencies, doctors, researchers, and treatment providers to improve access to opioid addiction treatment and recovery services. While there’s a lot more work that needs to be done, the growing resources for opioid addiction is a move in the right direction.
What are the signs of opioid addiction?
You or loved one doesn’t have to exhibit every one of these signs to be diagnosed with opioid addiction. In fact, even exhibiting just a couple of these signs can be indicative of a problem. A person may have an opioid addiction if he or she:
- Starts hanging out with new people
- Spends more time alone
- Avoids time with loved ones
- Loses interest in hobbies
- Doesn’t maintain personal hygiene
- Seems more fatigued and sad
- Eats less or more than usual
- Is overly energetic (e.g. talks fast and says things that don’t make sense)
- Is nervous or cranky
- Has moods that change quickly
- Sleeps irregularly or at odd hours
- Misses appointments and commitments
- Gets into trouble with the law
- Stops showing up to work or school regularly
- Has financial problems
Not only does opioid addiction affect the individual, but it also affects other facets of life.
What are the effects of opioid addiction?
Opioid addiction can touch every part of a person’s life. For example, he or she can experience:
- Relationship problems with family and friends
- Work problems resulting in lost wages or termination
- School problems like dropping out or expulsion
- Financial problems caused by maintaining the opioid addiction
- Health problems like insomnia, pulmonary complications, and organ damage
- Legal problems due to committing crimes to support the opioid addiction
- Mental health problems since addiction can exacerbate other mental issues like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Death from suicide
Despite the many negative effects of opioid addiction, the fear of withdrawal can make some people unwilling to receive treatment. The severity of withdrawal symptoms, however, is different from person to person and it shouldn’t be used as justification for not seeking treatment since it’s literally a life or death matter.
What are the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction?
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), opioid withdrawal symptoms generally last three to five days, but can last up to 10 days. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Tremors (shaking)
- Feeling cold
Due to the difficulty and dangerousness of opioid withdrawal, ASAM recommends not quitting abruptly (aka “cold turkey”) because it can lead to more intense cravings and further use. To safely reduce the pain and uncomfortableness of opioid withdrawal, you or your loved one should receive medically supervised treatment.
Opioid Treatment Programs at Rally Point
Rally Point is a male-only opioid treatment center in West Palm Beach, FL that offers personalized outpatient and inpatient treatment programs to achieve an opioid-free life. Rally Point isn’t a typical rehab though – we offer a variety of therapeutic activities that complement our opioid treatment programs like fishing, adventure therapy, yoga, meditation, painting, and more. Start your recovery from opioid addiction by calling us at (888) 797-2259 or taking our online assessment.