Warning Signs of Opiate Use
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Opiates are derived from the opium poppy which grows naturally throughout Afghanistan and other areas of the world. These drugs, including heroin and many prescription painkillers that are derived from the plant, are very strong and can be habit-forming. Early recognition of the warning signs of opiate use can help you to understand when help is necessary for yourself or for someone you care about. Left untreated, opiate use can lead to overdose, health complications and death.
An opiate user will often show signs of intoxication including heavy limbs that seem to hang very low or have little muscle tone or energy. The drugs, especially heroin and certain opioid pain relievers such as Oxycontin, will cause the user to feel lethargic and to lack energy. In addition to heavy limbs, you may notice that the user nods off at random times such as while eating dinner or during an important conversation.
Opiate use will often be recognized by an outsider when drug paraphernalia is found in the possession of the user. Paraphernalia items such as empty baggies, burnt spoons or needles may be found in the home or bedroom of the user. Additional paraphernalia items may include:
- pill bottles
- prescription forms
- razor blades
Lack of Interest
Opiate abuse will cause the individual to lack interest in things that were once enjoyable. As the abuse of the drug takes over, the individual will likely avoid interaction or activities such as hobbies or sports. You may notice that someone you love is no longer spending time with you, doesn’t want to go out, or simply seems to no longer be interested in activities that were usually exciting to him or her.
Opiate use will often lead to an increased tolerance to the drug of choice which causes an increasing desire to seek more drugs. As the drug dependence progresses, the user will spend more and more time looking for and using his or her drug of choice. This drug-seeking behavior may include:
- doctor shopping
- seeking drugs from friends or family members
- stealing drugs
- making up injuries in order to obtain prescriptions
- taking part in illegal activities to obtain drugs
Changes in Motivation
Opiate use will lead to distinct changes in motivation for the user as he or she becomes more dependent on the drug and less focused on other elements of his or her life. Grades may begin to slip, work production may slip and household chores are often put on the back burner in order to use drugs. These distinct changes in motivation are no guarantee that drugs are being used but they do signify a potential problem which may or may not be drug related. When changes in motivation are seek in addition to other signs of opiate use, you are likely facing a case of opiate abuse or maybe an addiction.