If you have a loved one struggling with opioid addiction, you might feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells. It can be challenging to figure out when and how to offer support. You don’t want to pry, but at the same time, you want to make sure your loved one is safe and has the resources necessary for treatment as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, many people in this situation wait too long before getting help. In fact, according to the CDC, 91 Americans die every day from an overdose of prescription opioids or heroin. But with the right vigilance and knowledge of risk factors, you can help your loved one get access to opioid treatment programs as soon as possible.
These are some warning signs that they need help now:
1. Changes in Behaviour
If your loved one’s behaviour has become noticeably different, there could be a problem. Behaviour changes that can be a sign of opioid addiction include:
- Isolation From Loved Ones
This can include withdrawal from family and friends, a lack of interest in social activities, and an unwillingness to visit with family or friends.
As a result of being less concerned with grooming, your loved one may start to look unkempt – for example, by growing long, unkempt hair. They might also begin to wear dirty clothes.
Your loved one may start to miss work or school, or call in sick excessively, due to their substance abuse.
To support his or her drug habit, your loved one may become irresponsible with money, failing to pay bills on time or at all. They may also begin engaging in illegal activities to get money.
2. Impaired Judgement
If your loved one is showing signs of impaired judgement, they may not be thinking clearly. They may not be able to make rational, healthy decisions because opioids have affected their judgement.
Your loved one may be more likely to engage in risky behaviours, such as driving under the influence or having unprotected sex, putting themselves and others in danger. They may be more likely to engage in criminal behaviour, such as stealing, shoplifting, or engaging in property damage.
They may also be more likely to put themselves in dangerous situations, such as unplanned travel to dangerous areas or even taking too high a dose or combining it with other substances thus increasing the likelihood of an overdose.
3. Continued Use Despite Negative Consequences
If your loved one is using opioids despite knowing the negative consequences, this could be a sign that they are addicted and need help. Negative consequences of opioid use include:
- Financial problems – To support their opioid habit, your loved one may spend all of their money, max out their credit cards, or take out high-interest loans.
- Legal problems – Your loved one might get pulled over for a traffic violation and decide not to report the opioids in their possession.
- Health problems – Long-term opioid use can lead to chronic health problems, such as liver or kidney disease, heart disease, or respiratory issues.
- Issues in their personal life – This could include getting kicked out of school, losing their job, or losing a relationship.
If your loved one is abusing opioids despite suffering from the consequences of their addiction and they don’t seek help, they might be in denial about their addiction and risk losing everything. You should encourage them to seek professional assistance as soon as possible from opioid treatment programs.
4. Increased Tolerance and Withdrawal
If your loved one has increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, they may be addicted. Increased tolerance is a sign that they are using more of the drug than they need to feel its effects. As such, they might be taking more frequent doses.
Withdrawal symptoms are the physical signs that their body is trying to fight off the drug. These signs can include nausea, diarrhea, body aches, and insomnia. If your loved one is taking opioids, you may notice them increasing their dosage.
Someone who is building up a tolerance to opioids is likely addicted. They may need professional help to get off the drug and avoid long-term health complications.
5. Won’t Stop Using Despite Multiple Attempts
If your loved one has tried to stop using opioids but can’t, this could be a sign that they need help. Some signs that your loved one is trying to stop using but can’t include attempts to cut down or abstain, hiding their drug use, and feeling guilt or shame about their drug use.
Not everyone who takes opioids becomes addicted. But if someone who takes opioids continues to use despite trying to stop, they may need help.
In many cases, loved ones don’t realize they need help until a friend, family member, or co-worker intervenes. If you’re worried about a loved one who is taking opioids, consider reaching out to them, especially if you notice any of the above signs in a loved one.
The sooner you get your loved one the treatment they need, the better. If you notice any of the above signs, don’t hesitate to get help for your loved one as soon as possible. Your loved one’s life may depend on it.
Let them know you’re there to support them and that you want to help.