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What are the Signs of Opioid Abuse?

Opioids are a potent class of drugs that are highly addictive and have become a major health problem here in the United States. The CCD reports that 75,673 Americans died due to opioid overdose in a 12-month period ending in April 2021. It is also estimated that 21 to 29 percent of Americans misuse opioid-based medications, and about 80 percent of people who abuse heroin started abusing opioid drugs.


Opioid abuse is dangerous, and people who are in the grip of opioids need professional treatment. This article will outline the signs of opioid abuse and where you can find opioid treatment programs. Are you or a loved one showing opioid abuse signs and need help? Call Atlantic Recovery today to find addiction treatment in South Florida.


What are Opioids?

By definition, opioids are semi-synthetic or synthetic chemicals that are designed to be attached to a specific group of receptors called opioid receptors. These are most commonly found on the nerve cells in the brain, but are found in the spinal cord and the stomach. Opioid drugs attach to these receptors and block pain messages transmitted throughout the body through the spinal cord. As a result, people feel a general sense of well-being.


Opioids are the active ingredient in many prescription painkillers. Doctors will prescribe opioid-based pain medications for those healing from surgery and for those suffering from major illnesses such as cancer, among other conditions. These medications are very effective when utilized as part of a comprehensive pain management program and under strict administration from experienced personnel. However, opioids have a high addiction potential and are easily abused. If people start taking these drugs beyond the scope of what is prescribed, they will quickly display opioid symptoms.


Which Drugs Are Opioids?

The most common opioid drugs known to most people are Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Fentanyl. Other popular opioid-based medications include the following:

  • Methadone
  • Tramadol
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Codeine


Over the past few years, drugs such as heroin and morphine have also been lumped into the discussion about opioids and opioid abuse. While these opiate drugs are very similar to opioids in the effects they produce on the brain and body, there are some subtle differences. Opiates like heroin are produced from the sap and fibers of the poppy plant. On the other hand, opioids are largely synthetic and created in a laboratory. Despite these differences in composition, opiates and opioids produce powerful effects, and it is common for people to cross over and abuse both types of drugs.


What are the Signs of Opioid Abuse?

Opioids are highly addictive for all who take them—even those who are taking them as prescribed by a doctor. Opioids flood the brain with endorphins which in the brain’s natural “feel good” chemical. In specific, opioids target the brain’s reward center. When used, people feel great and have a tremendous sense of calm. Once the effects wear off, people want to feel those effects again—and the cycle of abuse begins.


As with many addictions, the signs of opioid abuse can be difficult to detect at first. Many people who abuse opioids will go to great lengths to hide their use. Despite their best efforts, people who misuse opioids display tell-tale opioid addiction signs. These can include taking these drugs when they aren’t feeling pain, having wide swings in mood, and experiencing disruptive sleep patterns. Other signs of opioid addiction include poor decision-making, stealing medications, or engaging in doctor shopping (going to multiple doctors in an attempt to fill prescriptions).

Additional signs of opioid abuse can also include the following:

  • Increased anxiety and panic attacks
  • More pronounced depressive episodes
  • Shallow breathing and respiration
  • Increased irritability
  • Increased chance of overdose


How to Find Opioid Addiction Treatment

For those displaying opioid abuse signs, they must seek immediate professional help from a treatment facility. When it comes to what treatment options are best, it depends on the individual. Every addict is unique, and treatment does and should not follow a “one size fits all” philosophy. Treatment facilities must offer a wide range of programs and levels of care that are evidence-based and extensively tested before being put into practice.

Atlantic Recovery Center is a premier South Florida rehab center. Our treatment staff has many years of proven experience and success in working with those suffering from opioid abuse. Our South Florida treatment programs and services are effective and proven to work for you no matter the severity of your addiction. Call us toll-free today and begin your journey toward lasting recovery.