Opioid addiction, by its simplest definition, is a physical and psychological reliance on the continued use of various opioids and opiates. This addiction can have a pronounced, negative effect on the life of an addict, but can also be subtle and interfere minimally with an otherwise successful, happy life. Regardless, these addictions should never be ignored or downplayed. Over a hundred opioid overdose fatalities occur daily in America, putting any type of addict at serious risk. Doing your part to spread awareness about the risks of opioid abuse, ways to recognize opioid addicts, and addiction treatment options can help to address this ongoing crisis, saving the lives of those around you.

The Signs of Opioid Addiction

Most opioid addicts are tight-lipped about their problem and take steps to hide it in their daily lives. However, no amount of effort can nullify the symptoms of opioid abuse, so individuals inevitably demonstrate some or all of the signs of opiate addiction:

  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Needle marks (often hid with obscuring clothing)
  • Shallow breathing
  • Small pupils
  • Sudden weight loss or gain
  • Withdrawing socially and missing events without explanation
  • Poor hygiene practices
  • Making impulsive and reckless decisions
  • Unexplained financial hardship
  • Legal troubles in the past or present

Alongside the symptoms of regular abuse, addicts periodically go through withdrawal, which can range from short episodes to crippling experiences where addicts might not have access to opiates for an extended period of time. As the brain acclimates to frequent drug usage, neural pathways are damaged, blocked, and become physically dependent on the continued opioid intake to function normally, resulting in withdrawal if users don’t regularly take more opiates. Note that physical dependence on opiates is a part of addiction, but on its own, dependence does not necessarily constitute a substance abuse problem. Individuals who demonstrate these symptoms could be using prescribed opiates as part of honest medical routines or might have separate health issues—use your best judgment, and don’t be afraid to let others know if you’re concerned that they might have an opioid addiction.

How Opioid Addiction Treatment Works

Purely behavioral treatment, such as that found in most traditional 12 step programs in Tennessee, is effective in less than 20 percent of opiate addicts and is never advisable for recovering opioid abusers. The severity of opiate withdrawal combined with the intensity of chronic addictions makes it nearly impossible for patients to avoid relapse without medical assistance, which is where medication-assisted treatment comes into the picture. As part of an inpatient stay at a treatment center, opioid abusers are given careful oversight and support during a careful detox process. To ease the symptoms of withdrawal, alternative opiates, such as Methadone, are given in controlled,  tapering amounts by medical professionals. While this can occasionally lead to a newfound addiction to the substituted opiate, this is rare with proper oversight; medication-assisted treatment is proven to be far more effective than sudden and complete abstinence.

What is Opioid Addiction?

Discovery Place’s 30-day residential treatment program in Burns, Tennessee offers compassionate support and an alternative to traditional rehab centers that can be traumatic and ineffective for some. If you or someone you care about has an opioid addiction, contact us at 1-800-725-0922 at any time of day to learn more about treatment options.

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    Tyler Buckingham
    Alumni

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