In the United States, drug abuse is unfortunately common, especially when it comes to opiates. Available in the form of prescription and street drugs derived from opium, this dangerous class has led to debilitating addictions for millions.
In 2015, over 2 million Americans had a substance use disorder involving prescription opiates, with an additional 591,000 using and abusing heroin. This rampant use resulted in nearly 35,000 opiate-related overdose deaths – an epidemic in its own right.
Despite the prevalence of use, many individuals do not realize – or are afraid to admit – the depths of their own addictions. For some, this is a state of denial, driving patterns that users believe they can stop at any time. For others, it’s a misinterpretation of reality; drug use is simply a coping method, a temporary way to combat stress that won’t become a lasting habit.
Coming to terms with a drug addiction can be extremely challenging, especially for addicts who began using slowly and over time. For those who choose to be honest with themselves, however, there are many symptoms that can help identify an opiate addiction.
Strong Interest in Drugs
Most drug users who are on the brink of an addiction are firmly focused on drug use. How to get drugs, when to use drugs, and how to continue feeding a habit are often primary thoughts throughout the day, driving behavior and influencing perceptions. Many people who like partying with drugs or alcohol have few issues getting through a hard day at work or a lazy weekend afternoon without fixating on drugs, but addicts can’t function without finding a way to get high.
If you find yourself thinking about drugs in the morning, while at your desk at work, or at home with your family at the end of the day, your addiction troubles may run deeper than you realize.
Inability to Hold a Job
As an addiction accelerates, so does the toll it takes on daily life. What used to be a casual pastime becomes a rigid habit. Making it through a day at work without drugs shouldn’t be a challenge, but if it’s starting to feel as though there’s no way you can last until lunch without getting high, red flags are waving.
Drug use can cause big problems at work, from withdrawal symptoms to getting high on company time. Many drug users have a hard time keeping a job due to regular absences, drug test failures, and poor performance, so if you’ve been hopping jobs and can’t maintain a steady income, your drug habit may be the source of the problem.
Drug use can stand in the way of more than just your job. For habitual users, getting high regularly can affect everything from your friendships to your marriage, especially as your negligent behavior begins to disappoint those around you. Lying about issues, stealing to buy drugs, and blowing off obligations are all common in drug users, and these kinds of actions have the potential to turn those who love you away for good.
When drugs are driving you to make negative decisions that are hurting your family members and friends, an addiction is at foot. Healthy individuals do not let partying or substance abuse come before priorities, so if your drug use is driving friends and partners away, you have a problem with addiction.
Regular drug use can cause many changes to your personality, and this includes shifts to common behaviors. Many addicts begin to focus more on drugs than old lifestyle choices, quitting hobbies and skipping favorite events and activities to get high.
Additionally, substance abusers frequently display problematic signs, like theft, lying, and sneaking around, in order to buy or use drugs. If you have made excuses for bad behavior, lied to friends and family about your situation, borrowed money to use for drugs without asking, or stolen prescriptions from others, your addiction may be driving these behaviors.
In addition to behavioral changes, drug use often shows physical signs on the body as well. Those who use drugs or attempt to function while intoxicated often display an altered appearance, looking and acting like someone different. Users often feel different as well, resulting from the physical symptoms associated with drug side effects.
While opiates come in numerous forms, the signs of use and addiction are often similar. Some may be outwardly apparent while others are only noticed by the user. The primary signs of use and abuse include:
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Poor memory and concentration
- Stomach discomfort and constipation
- Slowed breathing
- Delayed reactions and slow movement
- Apathy, anxiety, or depression
Signs of Withdrawal
Most recreational alcohol and drug users can take time off from partying without negative effects, but addicts cannot. For those with a true dependency, withdrawal sets in within hours after a dose, leading to unpleasant symptoms until more drugs are procured.
If you can’t access drugs and you begin to feel poorly without subsequent use, you may be feeling the signs of withdrawal. While physical manifestations vary from one user to another, common symptoms include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Anxiety and paranoia
An Inability to Quit
Many drug users believe they can easily quit taking drugs, whether for better or for worse. However, this is almost always a fallacy. It’s easy to tell yourself lies about the state of your addiction, masking the true depths of the problem and living in a state of denial.
Drug users who are truly addicted are not able to quit for more than a day or two without the risk of relapse. Due to the physical changes to the brain that come with opiate addiction, cravings often begin within a few hours after a last dose and can be almost impossible to ignore. If you attempt to take time off drug use and are driven to great lengths to seek additional drugs, you are facing a serious addiction.
Admitting the truth behind your own addiction struggles isn’t always easy, but coming to terms with reality can be the push you require to seek assistance. The Treatment Center Outpatient Services is here when you are ready, helping you to identify and address opiate abuse and reclaim a sober lifestyle. Contact us today at 844-211-7944 to speak to a member of our admissions team. All consultations are strictly confidential.