Signs of Opioid Dependence and Tips for Tapering Off
Opioids are analgesic pain relievers prescribed by doctors for various ailments. They are widely prescribed across the world and the most commonly prescribed drugs in the US to control pain. When opioids are taken as directed they are very effective and though you can become addicted to drugs like opiates even when they are prescribed by a doctor, it’s far more likely to happen when someone abuses the drug by taking more than they are prescribed or when they take medications like opioids to get high. When opioids are abused a tolerance can be built up to the drug requiring more and more to achieve the same effect.
There are important indicators that the use of opioids have gone from their intended use to a full blown drug addiction. If you are worried that a loved one might be addicted to an opioid medication there are signs that can help you to determine if they might need professional help.
Signs of Opioid Dependence
1. Multiple Prescriptions for the Same Drug
If you notice that there are multiple prescriptions from different doctors for the same medication, this is a huge indicator that your loved one might be addicted to an opioid medication. People who are dependent on opioid medications need more and more of the drug to avoid going into withdrawals and becoming very sick so they take more than they are prescribed. This means they need multiple prescriptions to feed their habit so they must go to several different doctors for prescriptions of the same medication. The prescriptions will also be from different pharmacies so that no one will not catch on to what they are doing.
2. Constantly Talking About Drugs
If you notice that your loved one is constantly talking about taking drugs such as opioids or worried that will have enough of their medication and seems distracted to anything else this can also be a sign of dependence on opioid medications. Opiates effect the chemicals in the brain and cause an intense craving to use the drug again and again. When someone is in the throws of addiction they are unable to think clearly because their thoughts are always driven by use of the drugs.
3. Neglecting Responsibilities
As we said before, someone suffering from an addiction to an opioid will find it difficult to concentrate on much else, including their families, jobs and other important responsibilities. Marriages are irretrievably broken and children’s lives may be torn apart by separation and divorce. Students will ignore their studies and careers will be lost due to the inability to focus on anything other than finding and using more of their drug of choice.
What is the Best Way to Taper Off of Opiates?
Stopping the use of opiate medications on your own is not recommended. A doctor should be consulted prior to stopping or decreasing the drug to avoid the dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can occur and lead to relapse or even worse, death.
According to NIDA, “Patients addicted to barbiturates and benzodiazepines should not attempt to stop taking them on their own”. Inpatient rehab treatment is the best way to manage tapering off the opiate medication so that the dose can be decreased slowly and other medications can be given to manage the uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.