Opioids are a class of drug primarily used to reduce pain. While you might think of them as street drugs, not all opioids are. In fact, doctors prescribe opioids all the time. Like any medication, you should only take them as prescribed. This is particularly important with opioids, because they can be habit-forming.
Since the 1990s, a condition called opioid use disorder has been on the rise. It affects three million people in the United States and 16 million people worldwide. Opioid use disorder involves the chronic and compulsive use of opioids in any form.
There are many factors that can contribute to an opioid use disorder, including social factors, environmental factors, and genetic predispositions. These conditions can cause significant challenges for a sufferer’s mental and physical health.
Our multidisciplinary providers at Alpha Care Medical, with offices in Seaford, Millsboro, Harrington, and Dover, Delaware, offer compassionate and comprehensive opioid addiction treatment. The first step in getting the help you need is recognizing the problem, and we can help you do that by discussing some of the signs of an addiction.
As we mentioned before, not all opioids are “street drugs.” You might have a legitimate opioid prescription or at least start out with one. Physicians prescribe them to treat moderate to severe pain, but many people develop a dependency on them and go on to seek opioids in illegal ways.
Here are several common opioids, both prescription and illicit, that you might recognize:
Heroin is perhaps the most well-known illegal opioid, causing 25 deaths per day in the United States in 2021. However, an increasing number of people are getting fentanyl through illegal means in the United States.
Knowing the signs and symptoms
Opioid misuse and addiction can develop gradually, and the signs may be initially hard to recognize. You yourself might not recognize your own habit, but those closest to you may see the signs first.
A few of the most prevalent signs and symptoms of opioid addiction are:
- Increased tolerance to opioid medications
- Compulsive urges to use opioids
- Low motivation
- Mood swings
- Missed obligations and opportunities
- Poor decision-making skills
- Spending excessive time or energy to obtain opioids of any kind
As an addiction deepens, you may go to great lengths to obtain your next dose. It may reach the point of stealing from strangers, your workplace, or even your loved ones.
People with an opioid addiction often experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the substance, which can be yet another motivator for continued opioid use. Opioid withdrawal itself can be life-threatening and can cause symptoms like agitation, aches and pains, vomiting, and diarrhea.
How we can help
Even if you feel like there’s no return from your opioid addiction or dependency, there are options that can help you recover and reduce your risk for relapse. Our team at Alpha Care Medical provides personalized behavioral health care along with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help manage your cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and any underlying mental health factors driving your compulsive opioid use.
Reaching out for help is a sign of your resilience, not weakness. If you think you may be dependent on opioids, we can give you a thorough evaluation and discuss your next steps. To learn more, contact Alpha Care Medical to book an appointment.