Between 26.4 and 36 million people worldwide suffer from abuse of prescription opioid pain relievers. Do you suspect that your loved one might one of these abusers? Just like with other addictions, the longer someone struggles, the more signs there will be.
These signs include:
The individual might start falling asleep during conversations, at the dinner table, while watching a movie, etc.
A change in sleep habits
The person’s sleep may become prolonged or excessive, and then shortened or non-existent when not using the drug.
A lack of hygiene
Looking presentable and clean is no longer important. The individual might look scruffy, tired and disheveled.
Frequent flu-like symptoms
Fever and headache are signs of withdrawal when someone can’t get enough of a drug.
Opioid addicts usually lose weight from metabolic changes and changes that occur in the brain’s reward center.
Changes in exercise habits or energy level
If someone worked out regularly before forming an addiction, they might feel too lethargic and stop completely.
Opioid use lowers testosterone and estrogen levels, which are necessary for normal libido and sexual function. They also help maintain muscle mass and bone density.
An individual will no longer want to see friends or maintain relationships. Relationships that were once important no longer seem to matter.
Changes in work habits
Someone with an opioid addiction might excessively miss work, forget meetings and skip deadlines.
How Can I Help?
Show your concern for your loved one’s well-being without being judgmental. You need to display empathy and compassion in the same way you’d show it someone suffering from another chronic illness. Don’t tell someone what to do; it’s more effective to show someone you’re on their side and prepared to help them.
Create a structured, stable environment for your loved one. Establish basic expectations for behavior along with simple, predictable routines will reduce stress and limit the chaos that encourages addictive behaviors.
If you aren’t sure whether or not someone is addicted, seek out assessment with a licensed addiction treatment specialist. Make sure to keep track of your loved one’s medications and refills so you know what they’re taking and how much. Stay aware of overdose and ask about naloxone, a medication that cannot be self-administered and is used to counter the effects of opioid overdose.