Addiction to prescription drugs is not uncommon, especially when it comes to opiates, tranquilizers and sedatives, and stimulants. Unfortunately, this type of substance abuse disorder often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed, meaning people don’t get the help they need and remain addicted to the drugs that were supposed to help them. But if you’re worried about yourself, a friend, or a loved one, there are symptoms of prescription opiate addiction that you can look out for.
Symptoms of Opiate Addiction
There are a number of physical symptoms associated with opiate addiction that also apply when it comes to prescription substance use, and they include:
- Itching, but an inability to feel pain
- Feelings of euphoria and tranquility
- Shallow breathing
- Constricted pupils
- Slurred speech and poor coordination
- Confusion and bad judgement
- Flushed skin
Behavioral symptoms that indicate opiate addiction include mood swings, irritability, and hostility, confusion, exercising bad judgment, changing appetite and sleep patterns, increased alcohol consumption, increasing failure to meet social and work obligations, and using the prescription drugs in higher quantities.
Other Signs to Look Out For
While the physical symptoms of a prescription opiate addiction will be similar to any other opiate use, there are other signs you can look for as well that are specific to prescription substance use. This includes visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions and frequently losing (apparently) prescriptions. Why is this behavior indicative of addiction? Because it allows the user to access more drugs without friends, family, and doctors suspecting the addictive behavior.
How Does Prescription Drug Addiction Happen?
Most often, a person will become addicted to a prescription opiate after taking it for a legitimate medical reason, usually for pain management. Opiates are powerful drugs, make excellent pain killers, and they create a sense of calm and euphoria, but they are also highly addictive.
Moreover, as your body develops a tolerance to opiates, you need to take larger doses to achieve the same pain control, and this can quickly lead to dependence and substance abuse. Prescription opiates include:
- Oxycodone and Percocet (oxycodone with acetaminophen)
- Hydrocodone and Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen)
- Meperidine (known by the brand name Demerol)
There are other times, however, when prescription opiate addiction occurs when somebody uses leftover pain medication from a friend or family member, and the addiction occurs because the person doesn’t have a tolerance to opiates.
Even though many opiates are available by prescription, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous, and it certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t addictive. Opiate drugs are among the most habit-forming, and it doesn’t take much to go from using prescription opiates for pain management to becoming hooked.