Signs of Opioid Use

Signs of Opioid Use | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Opioid drugs are commonly abused for their euphoric and sedative effects. For this reason, users often face a very high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. Opioids come in several forms, including prescription painkillers and street drugs such as heroin. Other commonly found opiates and opioids include the following:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl and carfentanil
  • U-47700
  • Methadone
  • Tramadol

Prescription medications are usually found as a pill or tablet as a product of drug diversion, but also occasionally as a liquid or other form. Heroin and its highly-potent cousin fentanyl are usually found on the black market as a white powder. Heroin can also present as a dark tacky substance known as black tar and can be taken orally in a pill, smoked, snorted, or injected.

Opioid abuse is associated with the development of tolerance and dependence. Tolerance is caused by the brain’s propensity to diminish the response to a psychoactive substance after repeated use. This condition is hallmarked by a person’s need for increasing amounts of a drug to achieve the desired effect. Dependence occurs as the brain gradually adapts to the continued presence of opioids and becomes unable to function without it.

Withdrawal symptoms that onset after discontinuing opioid use are definite indications of physical dependence. Moreover, when a person stops using opioids or significantly reduces the dose, he or she will encounter highly uncomfortable and perhaps painful symptoms as a result. These unpleasant withdrawal effects are among the main catalysts for relapse.

Symptoms and Signs of Heroin Use

There are many physical, emotional, and behavioral signs of opioid use, including side effects, withdrawal, and symptoms of overdose. Some signs depend on the most common method of administration in addition to the type of drug used and the extent of abuse.

Side Effects of Opioid Use

Signs of Opioid Use | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

The following symptoms are among the most common effects that can manifest as a result of opioid use:

  • An initial rush of euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe itching
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Prolonged drowsiness
  • Heavy feelings in limbs
  • Impaired thinking

People who are addicted to opioids also frequently have mental health issues, which either contributed to the opioid use or are directly caused by it. Most commonly, these are related to clinical depression or anxiety, but can include many types of mood disorders and behaviors, including the following:

  • Agitation and irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts and actions
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obessessive-compulsive disorder

Behavioral Signs of Opioid Use

When opioid use develops into a priority, a person’s entire life may begin to transform, and drug use becomes the primary focus. Due to this fact, there are likely to be marked changes in a person’s appearance and behavior. Most often, a person who is in the throes of addiction will continually prioritize drug use over obligations and relationships despite the myriad of problems it can cause. 

The following are common behavioral signs associated with opioid use that can serve as warnings for concerned loved ones that there is an immediate need to seek professional treatment:

  • Adverse changes in behavior
  • Concerning changes in social group
  • Use of street slang related to heroin or other opioids
  • Friends or family missing money and/or valuables
  • Neglect of important responsibilities, such as family, school, or work
  • Disheveled appearance and poor hygiene
  • Legal and/or financial problems
  • Deceptiveness and secretiveness
  • Firm denial that there is a problem despite clear evidence to the contrary
  • Doctor-shopping (visiting several doctors or pharmacies in an attempt to obtain prescription medication)

It’s important to note that many signs of opioid abuse are related to the method of administration. For example, a person who is using heroin or other substances intravenously may exhibit marks or sores on extremities at injection sites. They may also have bruises, abscesses, and scars, wear long sleeves or pants, even in warm weather, to hide this evidence of use.

A person who smokes opioids might experience frequent bouts of coughing and develop other lung problems, such as emphysema or COPD later in life. A person who snorts opioids may have nose bleeds and incur damage to nasal tissues.

Drug paraphernalia is also a sure-fire indicator of opioid use. People who inject will likely have needles and tourniquets lying around, and people who smoke it might have pipes and spoons. People who consume pills may have several bottles, perhaps empty in the trash. 

Symptoms of Overdose

An opioid overdose requires immediate medical care. The following are common signs of an opioid overdose:

  • Bluish lips or nails (cyanosis)
  • Clammy or cold skin
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weak or absent pulse
  • Profound drowsiness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Coma
  • Death

If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing an opioid overdose, please call 911 immediately or visit the nearest emergency room. If you have naloxone (Narcan) available, administer this medication as it can reverse an overdose and save a person’s life.

Signs of Opioid Use | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms manifest as a result of physical dependence in frequent opioid users or after a “binge”—a prolonged period of excessive use. Short-acting opioids, such as heroin, can result in withdrawal symptoms in as soon as 6-12 hours, whereas longer-acting opioids, such as methadone, are associated with an extended time before the onset of withdrawal symptoms—up to and beyond 24 hours in some cases. In all cases, symptoms tend to subside over 5-7 days.

In some instances, the loved ones of those abusing opioids may not know they have been using or the scope of their use. However, in learning to recognize the symptoms of withdrawal, they may increase their awareness of the extent of the problem.

Common withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid abuse include the following:

  • Dysphoria
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Body aches and pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration

Without treatment, a person undergoing withdrawal is very likely to relapse. Because of the heinous nature of addiction, they will often do anything to get their fix. This includes pilfering prescription medications from loved ones, stealing money and other items, dealing drugs themselves, or even prostitution.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Opioid abuse is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening disorder that causes a tremendous amount of suffering for both the person who uses and their loved ones. Fortunately, heroin addiction is very treatable through the use of a comprehensive, research-based approach. A comprehensive program consists of therapeutic services essential for recovery, such as psychotherapy, individual and group counseling, group support, and aftercare planning.

Treatment usually begins with detox—a medically-monitored process in which a person is supervised for several days while his or her body is cleared of opioids and other toxic substances. After detox, patients are encouraged to participate in an intensive treatment program followed by outpatient therapy.

Recovery By The Sea employs addiction specialists who provide patients with the tools and support they so desperately need to achieve a full recovery, prevent relapse, and enjoy long-lasting wellness and sobriety. 

Contact us today to discover how we can help you or a loved one navigate the recovery process toward a fulfilling and healthy life!

⟹ READ THIS NEXT: Signs of Cocaine Use

What Are Roxies?

What Are Roxies? | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

What Are Roxies? – “Roxies” is the slang name for Roxicodone, a brand name for the prescription opioid oxycodone. Physicians may prescribe Roxicodone for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, abrupt breakthrough pain, or prior to surgery. Similar to other narcotics, Roxicodone can be addictive when used for a prolonged period.

Over time, the use of Roxies can lead to the development of tolerance, a condition that is a byproduct of the body’s propensity to reduce the effects of certain substances upon repeated exposure. This effect may compel some people to increase their dosage due to the diminished response.

Dependence, which is another possible consequence, is a condition that occurs as the body adapts to the presence of a substance. If the person then tries to discontinue use, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will onset as a result.

Roxicodone Effects

The Mayo Clinic has published a list of symptoms that can manifest in association with the abuse of opioid painkillers. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or someone you know who is taking Roxies, this may indicate that addiction has developed:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of motivation
  • Profound sedation
  • Stupor
  • Slowed or labored breathing

If you identify these symptoms and suspect that you or a loved one may be addicted to Roxicodone, you are urged to seek professional help as soon as possible.

What Are Roxies?: Roxicodone Addiction

In addition to physical signs, addiction results in behavioral changes becoming increasingly noticeable. Addicts often engage in “doctor shopping,” which is the practice of visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies in an effort to obtain new prescriptions. Persons suffering from addiction may also lie to their doctors about having symptoms that need pain treatment or exaggerate existing ailments.

They may also ask family members for access to unwanted medications, or manipulate other family members into lying to physicians to receive prescriptions for their own use. If these efforts are unsuccessful, addicts may resort to obtaining drugs from dealers, the Internet, or outright theft.

An addiction to Roxies can wreak havoc on a person’s physical and mental well-being. When used exactly as prescribed, side effects associated with this medication may include sweating, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, and more.

What Are Roxies?: Roxicodone Overdose

What Are Roxies? | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

When misused, abused, or combined with prescription drugs or other substances, Roxicodone can result in profound central nervous system (CNS) depression. This condition is hallmarked by problems with breathing and severe drowsiness. Other CNS depressants, such as sedatives or alcohol, can be especially dangerous because their effects amplify those of Roxicodone.

The following are tell-tale signs of an overdose, which can be life-threatening:

  • Vomiting
  • Body is very limp
  • Skin is pale or clammy
  • Bluish lips and fingertips
  • Irregular or slowed pulse
  • Absent pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Stupor
  • Respiratory depression
  • Respiratory distress
  • Choking or gurgling sounds

What Are Roxies?: Consequences of Addiction

As with other addictions, a person’s values, priorities, and inhibitions may change as he or she grows increasingly preoccupied with obtaining and using the substance.

Common problems experienced by persons addicted to drugs or alcohol include the following:

  • Multiple arrests and jail time
  • Neglect of children and other important family responsibilities
  • Aggressive behavior and domestic violence
  • Strained relationships and isolation from family and friends
  • Loss of interest in other activities once considered enjoyable
  • Intense cravings for the substance of choice
  • Engagement in increasingly dangerous activities and drug-seeking behavior
  • Development of toxic relationships with others who engage in or condone substance abuse

Moreover, a person’s life can become unstable and overwhelmed by negative effects. As his or her substance of choice gradually begins taking priority in life, the addict will eventually begin to disregard family, school, or work obligations in favor of drug use.

People suffering from addiction often lose jobs, experience financial distress, and neglect the upkeep of their appearance and basic personal hygiene. They may also manipulate and alienate doctors and loved ones in their crusade to get possession of more drugs.

Seeking Treatment

Admitting that you have a serious addiction is the first step in finding the help you need to conquer it. Very few people are able to end an addiction to narcotics without external treatment and support from a variety of sources. The safest and most effective method of overcoming an opioid addiction is to participate in a comprehensive program in a specialized treatment facility.

Recovery By The Sea employs highly-skilled addiction professionals, and we firmly believe that a person’s recovery depends on our commitment to success. You have the opportunity to experience the best outcome when you choose our center.

We equip you with the tools, resources, and support you need to free yourself from the chains of addiction for life. We offer integrated, research-based services clinically proven to be essential to the process of recovery, including behavioral therapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. Discover how we help people overcome addiction and begin to enjoy the healthy and satisfying lives they deserve!

Related: Snorting Xanax

Methadone Addiction

Methadone Addiction | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Methadone Addiction – Methadone is a long-acting synthetic opioid commonly used for the treatment of heroin addiction or dependence on more powerful, potentially more dangerous opioids. When used as directed, methadone can be very effective at treating opiate addiction, but as an opioid itself, still has the potential for addiction.

When used to wean patients off other narcotics, methadone doses are closely supervised by medical and addiction professionals. However, due to methadone’s relatively low cost when compared to other traditional prescription opioids, doctors have also been commonly prescribing methadone for the treatment of chronic pain for some time.

This trend appears to be helpful for some but has also allowed more people access to methadone than before, including a number of people who might not have used opioids in the past. These additional exposures have contributed to increasing addictions to methadone, as well as making methadone more readily available as a recreationally used substance.

Methadone acts on the brain by attaching to the same receptors as other opioids like heroin or oxycodone. Because methadone remains in the system for an extended period—from one to three days—it works to block the euphoric effects of other opioids as well as mitigate painful symptoms of withdrawal associated with these drugs.

Who Becomes Dependent on Methadone?

Since the 1970s, methadone clinics and methadone maintenance programs in the U.S. have been touted as ways for people with heroin addiction to avoid the worst symptoms of withdrawal while preventing relapse. Today, methadone is still used for this purpose under close medical supervision.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, there were as many as 3,400 overdose deaths related to methadone in the U.S. As noted above, doctors sometimes prescribe this drug to treat chronic pain due to conditions such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, or injuries. Legitimate prescription drug use can turn into abuse as tolerance develops, however, and once abuse begins, dependence and addiction may shortly follow.

Importantly, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved methadone for the treatment of these types of pain, yet physicians wrote more than four million prescriptions for methadone in 2009. The increase in methadone prescriptions for use as a painkiller is due to methadone’s lower cost when compared to other popular opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone.

Fortunately, however, according to a 2018 report from The Pew Charitable Trusts, methadone prescriptions intended to manage pain were found to have declined by 26% nationwide between 2013-2016 following efforts by U.S. states to reduce the use of the drug.

Recreational Methadone Use

As methadone has increasingly been prescribed to treat pain and not just opioid addiction, more of this opioid has become accessible to people who engage in drug abuse. Much like the wide availability of hydrocodone, people who abuse opioid drugs can more easily obtain methadone by pilfering it from friends or family, or by purchasing it illicitly.

The illegal selling of prescription medication is called drug diversion, and it is considered to be the leading cause of the opioid drug epidemic in the U.S. When a person uses methadone for non-medical purposes, the person faces a much higher risk of developing an addiction or experiencing an overdose.

Methadone Side Effects

Methadone Addiction | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Methadone’s side effects are comparable to those associated with other opioid drugs. These include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Impaired cognition
  • Confusion
  • Impaired memory
  • Impaired coordination

Withdrawal

Methadone was originally devised for the treatment of heroin addiction because its symptoms of withdrawal are less intense and do not onset as quickly as with many other opioids. This difference is because methadone remains in the body in some form for up to three days. Though less severe, withdrawal symptoms related to methadone are comparable to withdrawal symptoms from other opioid drugs.

Methadone withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Fever and chills
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Rapid heart rate

Methadone Overdose

Methadone Addiction | Recovery By The Sea Addiction Treatment

Because methadone is a long-acting drug intended to relieve symptoms in those addicted to heroin, it can accumulate rapidly in the body and stay in the bloodstream for some time. It is critical that people with methadone prescriptions use this medication precisely as directed and do not modify their dose without a doctor’s recommendation and oversight. It is relatively easy to overdose on methadone due to the potency of a single dose.

Methadone’s half-life ranges anywhere from eight to 59 hours, depending on the dose while the painkilling effects last only up to eight hours. The long half-life is beneficial for those in recovery from addiction to other narcotics, as it remains in the body for an extended period to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.

However, this also means it is less useful for the treatment of chronic pain related to diseases such as cancer because the analgesic effects do not persist as long as the drug remains in the system. As a result, people who use methadone as a painkiller can place themselves in danger of an overdose if their pain returns and they decide to take another dose before it is safe to do so.

Symptoms of overdose include:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Clammy, cold skin
  • Bluish lips and fingertips
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Stupor
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Coma
  • Death

Combining methadone with other prescription or illicit drugs or alcohol—especially other central nervous system depressants—can increase the risk of overdose, and lead to serious heart problems as well. These complications range from arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) to heart attack.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Many people who struggle with methadone addiction also suffer from co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc. People who experience mental health conditions may attempt to self-medicate to relieve their symptoms, often with substances such as alcohol, painkillers, marijuana, or cocaine. For these people, methadone addiction may also develop following attempts to overcome other opioid addictions.

Psychiatric and medical professionals who treat drug addiction work to identify underlying mental health conditions that might have compelled the person to self-medicate away symptoms in an effort to feel better. Comprehensive care that addresses co-occurring disorders is needed for the patient to achieve a full recovery from methadone addiction.

Treatment for Methadone Addiction

Whether a person starts misusing methadone against a doctor’s orders or as part of an opioid addiction treatment program, treatment for addiction usually requires both medical detox and comprehensive therapy. In some cases, patients may be gradually tapered off methadone, and others may be switched to another opioid medication, such as Suboxone, that has an even lower potential for abuse and addiction.

Recovery By The Sea offers medication-assisted therapy to help persons addicted to methadone recover while reducing cravings and relieving the worst symptoms of withdrawal. In addition, we employ other evidence-based services essential to the recovery process, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, health and wellness programs, and aftercare planning.

If you or someone you love is addicted to methadone, please contact us today. We are dedicated to helping people free themselves from the shackles of addiction so they can begin to experience the healthy and satisfying lives they deserve!

What Are Depressants?

What are Depressants? | Recovery by the Sea

Central nervous system depressants are substances that decrease activity in the brain and body. Prescription depressants are indicated for the treatment of a variety of conditions, such as insomnia, seizures, anxiety, muscle tension, and pain in general.

When abused, however, these drugs can have adverse effects on the body, some resulting in serious complications, overdose, and even death. Common depressants include alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers, and sedatives.

Alcohol

What are Depressants? | Recovery by the Sea

Alcohol is among the most frequently used depressants, sometimes mistaken for a stimulant due to the euphoria it invokes early on during intoxication.

Nearly 9 out of 10 adults aged 18 or older report drinking alcohol at some point in their lives and roughly one-fourth of those have engaged in binge drinking – a pattern of abuse that increases the risk of adverse effects and alcohol addiction.

While alcohol is legal to use among adults over age 21, it is often abused, and people who use alcohol frequently and in large amounts run the risk of addiction and alcohol poisoning. When used long-term alcohol increases the risk of liver cirrhosis, as well as many cancers.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), adverse effects of long-term, excessive alcohol abuse may include:

  • Weakening of the heart muscle
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver
  • Increased risk of cancer in the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast
  • Increased risk of pancreatitis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Disorientation
  • Vision difficulties
  • Injuries from intoxication
  • Agitation and depression

Opioids/Opiates

Opioids and opiates belong to a class of drugs that include both prescription painkillers and illicit substances such as heroin. Due to their highly addictive nature, they are frequently abused for their feel-good effects.

Some health complications from opioid use include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating and chills
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Hypersensitivity to stimuli
  • Confusion

While many other depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines (benzos), are difficult to overdose on lethally, potent opioids such as heroin and fentanyl can cause death in just minutes. Furthermore, opioids are far more dangerous when combined with other CNS depressants such as benzos, alcohol, and sedatives.

In fact, in 2017, of the estimated 72,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, the vast majority involved either prescription or illicit opioids/opiates.

Barbiturates

Barbituates are used for a variety of purposes, such as anesthesia, seizure management, and pain relief. They are also sometimes used for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Like many depressants, barbiturates have a high potential for addiction if misused. Side effects of excessive barbiturate use include:

  • Risks to pregnancy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Intentionally heavy sedation
  • Accidental overdose and death

Barbiturates can become addictive in a relatively short amount of time and are involved in approximately 1500 emergency room visits each year. By some estimates, they may currently be involved in as many as one-third of the drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Benzodiazepines

Benzos are anti-anxiety medications that are prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder, insomnia, and sometimes seizures or depression. Benzos also have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Side effects of benzodiazepine abuse may include the following:

  • Sedation
  • Dizziness and unsteadiness
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Loss of orientation
  • Headache
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Confusion
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Impaired memory

Benzodiazepines are rarely fatal if overused on their own, but when used in conjunction with other depressants such as opioid the risk of a fatal overdose increases exponentially. In fact, benzos are involved in a large percentage of drug overdose deaths each year, especially those classified as combined drug intoxication.

Additional Depressants

There are several types of drugs classified as depressants that are less likely to be abused, but could potentially interact with other CNS depressants and therefore should only be used according to a doctor’s orders:

Antihistamines – these are used to reduce allergic reactions, inflammation, and in some cases can also work as mild anti-anxiety agents
Muscle Relaxers – used to ease strain and tension on the muscles due to injury, surgery, or other debilitating conditions
Anti-psychotics – used to treat the hyperactive mood during a manic episode, schizophrenia, or Tourette’s syndrome
Alpha and beta blockers – often used for Raynaud’s disease, high blood pressure, and anxiety disorders

Treatment for Depressants

What are Depressants? | Recovery by the Sea

Treatment for addiction to depressants such as alcohol, opioids, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates should begin with a medically-assisted detox. During this process, the patient is supervised 24/7 while his or her body rids itself of toxic substances.

Undergoing a medical detox allows the patient to monitored and administered medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms that would normally lead to relapse.

Following detox, patients are encouraged to participate in one of our addiction treatment programs, which includes both partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient formats. Both tracks include individual and group therapy, individual and family counseling, 12-step programs, and holistic approaches such as yoga, meditation, and art therapy.

After intensive treatment has been completed, patients can benefit from our aftercare planning services and alumni activities that foster ongoing community support and continued recovery.

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