According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), prescription opiate abuse has reached epidemic levels. Abuse of opiate-based prescription narcotics often leads to more dangerous drugs, namely heroin. These painkillers contain the same active ingredient as heroin, and many heroin addicts begin as recreational prescription opiate users.

12 million Americans used opiate-based prescription narcotics for non-medical purposes in 2010 per the CDC. Unfortunately, this number continues to rise dramatically and is expected to increase in the coming years. With the rise in opioid drug abuse has come an alarming increase in the number of overdose deaths. Opiate-based prescription drugs now account for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

Signs of Opiate Dependence

  • A strong desire or sense of compulsion to ingest the drug
  • Difficulty controlling drug-taking behavior in terms of its onset, termination or levels of use
  • A physiological withdrawal state when drug use is stopped or reduced, as evidenced by: the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance (withdrawals); or use of the same (or a closely related) substance with the intention of relieving or avoiding withdrawal symptoms (stopping use by substituting with another opiate-based substance)
  • Growing tolerant to the point that increased doses of the drug are required in order to achieve effects originally produced by lower doses
  • Progressive neglect of alternative pleasures, activities or interests because of drug use
  • Increased amount of time necessary to obtain or take the drug or to recover from its effects
  • Persisting with drug use despite clear evidence of overtly harmful consequences, such as harm to the liver, depressive mood states or impairment of cognitive functioning/thought processes

Physical Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal

Psychological Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal

Resources: Addiction to Opiates, Prescription Painkillers

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