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Opiate addiction is a serious problem all across the United States. In rural and urban areas, low-income and wealthy neighborhoods, young and old individuals—nearly every demographic is affected by this epidemic. It can be difficult to even imagine a loved one abusing a drug as dangerous as opiates; unfortunately, the chance is high no matter where you come from. If you believe your loved one might be addicted to opiates, it’s time to find out for sure and to seek professional help.

Summer House Detox Center provides drug and alcohol detox and rehab for transitioning into further treatment and aftercare. If you know someone who needs drug or alcohol rehab in Miami, FL call 800-719-1090 now to speak to a treatment specialist.

The Opiate Epidemic

In order to understand why it is so important to be able to recognize opiate addiction in a loved one, it is necessary to be aware of the severity of the opiate epidemic in the United States.

  • According to the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, the opiate addiction crisis is considered a national state of emergency in the US.
  • According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, greater than 130 people die every day from overdoses associated with opiate drugs.
  • In 2018, 10.3 million people abused prescription opiates, such as morphine, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.
  • That same year, 47,600 people died from opiate overdoses.
  • In 2016, fentanyl was associated with almost 50% of opiate overdose deaths, as stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Currently, fentanyl is being manufactured illegally and is often used to cut heroin, which makes it much more potent and more likely to cause deadly overdoses.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that, in 2017, the opiate overdose death rate was six times higher than it was in 1999.  

As you can see, opiate dependence, addiction, overdose, and death are not problems that occur in low numbers or specific areas of the country. This is a serious, widespread epidemic that affects everyone in the US. As such, if you think there is a possibility that your loved one may be addicted to opiates, it is extremely important to stop ignoring the problem and get help as soon as you can.

Opiate Abuse Leads to Addiction

If your loved one is abusing opiates, this is a sign that they might be addicted. Opiate abuse consists of any use of opiate drugs that are not prescribed by a doctor.

Any type of opiate abuse can lead to addiction, even if your loved one has a prescription. If your loved one is taking opiates without a prescription, in higher doses than prescribed, more often than prescribed, or with other substances, then they are abusing opiates.

Addiction vs. Dependence

One important factor to understand is that dependence and addiction are not the same. Addiction is defined by compulsive drug seeking as well as continued drug abuse despite the consequences experienced by the individual abusing the drug. Dependence occurs when the body adapts to the use of the drug and starts to rely on it, creating uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if the drug’s use is stopped.

As the NIDA states, addiction and dependence often go hand-in-hand. When a person becomes addicted to a drug, they become dependent on it as well. However, a person can become dependent on opiates without abusing them and without becoming addicted. This can happen if the individual takes opiate drugs under a doctor’s care for a prolonged period.

For this reason, doctors are attempting to put patients on opiate drugs for shorter periods of time. Governments in certain states are also putting restrictions on prolonged prescriptions for opiates. Still, some people do become dependent on opiates without abusing them. When patients do become dependent, they will still need to go through a supervised withdrawal program to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Recognizing the Signs of Opiate Addiction

If you still think your loved one is abusing opiates and has become addicted to them, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of this illness. Start to look for the signs and symptoms in your loved one’s behavior and physical state, and you can begin to see whether or not the situation is as dire as you believe it to be.

Behavioral Signs of Opiate Addiction

  • Problems at school, work, or home
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Spending lots of time alone
  • Secretive behavior, including not wanting to explain what they have been doing or where they have been
  • Becoming hostile when asked questions about drug use
  • Changes in eating and sleeping behaviors
  • Neglecting activities they used to love
  • Constantly making excuses to take more drugs
  • Financial issues caused by consistent, illicit purchasing of drugs
  • Isolating themselves from their loved ones
  • Consistent confusion
  • Breaking the law in order to get more drugs (i.e., buying opiates illicitly or stealing money to get drugs)
  • Keeping pill bottles, needles, and other drug paraphernalia hidden around the house

Physical Signs of Opiate Addiction

  • Drowsiness
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Track marks on the arms or legs
  • Wearing clothes that cover arms and legs to hide track marks
  • Hygiene problems
  • Bad breath
  • Frequently suffering from what seems like the flu, which a sign of withdrawal

What Do I Do If I Notice Signs of Opiate Addiction?

Noticing the signs of opiate addiction in a loved one, especially multiple signs that strongly point to a likelihood of abuse and addiction, is upsetting. You might not know where to turn. Still, it is important to remember that you can help your loved one get the treatment they need to get better. According to the NIDA, having a family member or friend involved in the process of addiction treatment often increases the likelihood that the patient will stay in treatment and have a better recovery outcome.

To start with, it could be useful to bring up your concerns about your loved one’s drug use to them. Still, there are certain rules to follow if you choose to do this. Do so only when they are sober, and if you feel it is not going to be safe for you to bring this up, don’t do it alone. As stated above, opiate addiction can often cause people to become hostile when confronted with their drug use, as they will not want to stop using in many cases.

If you need to stage an intervention, this can be a helpful way to get your loved one to seek treatment. Whatever you choose, remember there are many resources available to help you help your loved one. Still, the most important thing to do if you think your loved one may be addicted to opiates is to look for the signs and symptoms of addiction, and, if you see multiple issues occurring in your loved one’s behavior, get help for them as soon as possible. 

If you know someone who is suffering from opiate addiction in Fort Lauderdale, contact Summer House Detox Center at 800-719-1090 or visit our treatment facility in 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161.