Opiates include illegal drugs such as heroin, and prescription medications such as opioid pain medicines. One of the most famous and addictive opiates is heroin. Other examples include morphine and methadone, which is sometimes used in treatment for heroin addiction.
Opioid painkillers include oxycodone and one of the strongest oxycodone painkillers is OxyContin. Opiates are generally highly addictive and it is easy to become addicted to both illegal opiate drugs or to opioid painkillers. Opiates are often also called narcotics. There are several signs of opiate addiction and they range from physical symptoms to psychological symptoms.
About Opiate Medications
Opiates are commonly prescribed for pain relief. One of the most commonly prescribed opioid pain killers is oxycodone, which is generally prescribed when the pain is severe or chronic. OxyContin contains a high concentration of oxycodone. Other oxycodone pain medications include Percodan, Percocet and Tylox. Some pain relief medications contain oxycodone together with other medicines.
Oxycontin is very addictive and it is one of the most widely abused prescription medicines. Opioid pain relief medications can quickly lead to opiate addiction even after a short course of pain medication, for example during a treatment in the hospital. Heroin is a widely abused illegal opiate and its use commonly leads to deaths from overdoses. However, opioid pain relief medications lead to more deaths than illegal opiates.
Symptoms of Opiate Abuse
There are several opiate abuse symptoms that act as warning signs. If you notice these symptoms in yourself or in a friend or a family member, you may have a reason to worry about opiate abuse. Some symptoms are common to all kinds of drug abuse. There are also symptoms that are typical to opiate abuse.
Warning Signs of Opiate Addiction
Opiate abuse means the use of illegal opiates (such as heroin) or the use of prescription opioids for reasons other than medication. Abusing opiates quickly leads to dependence and addiction. There are several symptoms that indicate addiction to opiates:
- Legal problems from the use of illegal drugs.
- A strong craving for the drug the addict prefers.
- The person starts to neglect his or her duties at home or at work.
- Financial problems when the person spends an increasing amount of money on the drugs.
- Taking an increasing amount of the drug to get the same effect as the original “hit”.
- Self-destructive behavior – neglecting hobbies or activities that the person once enjoyed.
- If still in school or in college, the person may start to skip classes and neglect homework.
- The person spends a lot of time thinking about where to get the next hit or when to take the next dose.
- The person continues to take the drug even though it causes health problems or leads to relationship problems.
Opiate abuse can lead to many health problems. Infections and infectious diseases are a common problem among those who are abusing opiates. These include skin infections and abscesses. Abscesses can also occur in the lungs or in the brain. Continuing abuse of opiates can also lead to respiratory problems such as pneumonia or fluid in the lungs.
Narcotic abuse can also lead to liver problems, amenorrhea (loss of menstruation) in women, seizures or coma. If a pregnant woman has used opiates during the pregnancy, neonatal withdrawal in the baby is a common consequence and this can be lethal.
Opiate Abuse Withdrawal Symptoms
If the person stops taking the drug (whether illegal or prescription opioid) he or she can experience a range of withdrawal symptoms. It is often necessary to slowly reduce the dosage of opioids instead of suddenly stopping their use. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates are often so severe that it is necessary to stay in a medically supervised environment for the duration of the withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms include:
If you notice several of the common signs of opiate addiction in a friend or in yourself, it is important to get help. Because opiates are so addictive, it is best to seek medical help when trying to stop opiate use. A detox from the opiates is the first step in stopping their abuse.
It is usually best to do the detox in a hospital or a specialized clinic. After the detox it may be necessary for the person to spend time in a residential rehabilitation center that is drug-free and that will provide help for continuing an opiate-free life.