Opioid addiction has become an epidemic throughout the United States, and it isn’t limited to any particular age, sex, race, or socioeconomic status. Unlike many other drugs, opioid use often begins with a doctor’s approval; certain opioids are prescribed legally for pain management. Healthcare providers have been warned to be more cautious with the provision of these potentially dangerous substances. In addition, the public is becoming more educated on the signs of opioid addiction as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the epidemic a public health crisis in 2017. By recognizing the following signs early, a person could save their own life or the life of a loved one.
Initial symptoms that can be observed in opioid addiction include behavioral changes. Individuals struggling with addiction may become more withdrawn from friends and family and have a difficult time keeping a job or staying in school. They may begin to frequent doctors’ offices more often or jump around between healthcare providers, often lying about their pain to receive more medication.
Certain signs of opioid abuse can be observed physically, as well. HealthGuide.org International reported that people often find their loved ones feel overly tired or “spaced out” for extended periods of time. Other indicators of opioid abuse can include sudden changes in an individual’s weight and pupil size. The individual may also appear to be suffering from chronic gastrointestinal concerns, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Visible sores or scabs may be indicative of intravenous opioid use.
Serious psychological effects often accompany opioid abuse, as well. Individuals may notice that they or their loved one is feeling increasingly irritable, aggressive, depressed, or paranoid. Concentrating, making reasonable decisions, or processing and addressing problems may become more difficult or feel impossible at times. Being out of touch with reality can make it difficult for the individual to recognize symptoms of addiction and communicate it to friends or family.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from opioid addiction, you’re not alone. Alpha Care Medical in Harrington, DE provides treatment and resources to help patients overcome addiction and lead happy, healthy lives. Give us a call today at (800) 818-8680 to speak with an experienced professional about the steps to recovery.
Although helpful when used under doctor supervision, pain medications known as opioids have addictive properties that can be potentially life-threatening. Here are a few statistics that truly illustrate how widespread opioid addiction has become in the United States.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a specific class of narcotic substances derived from the opium poppy plant and traditionally used for pain management. This class of substances includes both legal narcotics such as hydrocodone or fentanyl, as well as illegal narcotics such as heroin or kratom. In both their legal and illegal forms, opioids have highly addictive properties, and if used improperly, they can require interventions from friends and family or more rigorous addiction management.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), there were 52,404 deaths by drug overdose in 2015, and opioid overdoses made up a significant amount of this number. Roughly 20,100 overdoses were related to prescription pain-relieving medications, and 12,990 overdoses were related to heroin. It is also important to note that fatalities related to drug overdoses have greatly increased in the past few decades; in 2008, the rate of overdose deaths was almost four times as much as it was in 1999, according to the ASAM.
The rates above may be increasing due to an increase in the number of opioid prescriptions being written in the United States. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids, which, according to the ASAM, is enough to give each American their own bottle of pills. The organization also notes that around 80 percent of those who turn to heroin began their additions by abusing prescription pain relievers such as opioids. In a 2014 survey, 94 percent of responders with opioid addiction reported that they turned to heroin because prescription painkillers were “far more expensive and harder to obtain.”
Opioid Addiction in Delaware
Delaware is not immune to the opioid epidemic in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2016 saw 154 opioid-related overdose deaths, which is 16.9 people per 100,000, making it higher than the national rate of 13.3 people per 100,000. In 2015, 768,974 prescriptions for opioid pain relievers were written, which is about 80 prescriptions for every 100 Delaware citizens.
Although opioid addiction is widespread, it can be overcome using the right resources. At Alpha Care Medical, we’ve combined behavioral health and medical treatments to help patients combat their addiction and improve their quality of life. If you or someone you know is suffering from opioid dependency, schedule your appointment with Alpha Care Medical or call us at (800) 818-8680.
Drug addiction is a difficult situation for individuals and their families. The effects of addiction can linger for years, and without the guidance and support of loved ones, struggling individuals may face a long road to recovery. Luckily, when the time comes to talk to a friend about addiction, these five strategies can help get the conversation going.
Only Talk When They’re Sober
One of the most important steps toward meaningful conversation is making sure the friend is sober when the discussion gets serious. If they’re under the influence, they will be much less likely to understand the gravity of the situation and may act irrationally. Set aside lots of time to talk, and be sure to listen: their questions, concerns, and opinions are important, and they deserve to be heard.
Being specific during the discussion is also critical. It might be helpful to bring up examples of particular moments when their addiction has affected others, or to point out how their behavior changes when they take drugs. You could also cite scientific information on addiction to opioids, alcohol, and other substances, helping them to confront the health impact of these substances. However you choose to approach the conversation, remember to speak constructively, not critically.
Be Firm But Loving
Unconditional love is a powerful tool against drug addiction. Letting a friend who’s struggling know that you’re there for them no matter what may give them the courage to seek help. It’s also important, however, to be firm: lay down a few ground rules, set boundaries, and let them know how their addiction makes you feel.
Make Sure Your Message Is Clear and Consistent
Unless your position on the situation at hand is clearly defined and consistent, your friend’s road to recovery will be fraught with mixed messages. For example, if you claim that the addiction problem worries you one day, then you allow or enable drug use the next, your friend will likely notice the lack of consistency and have a harder time getting better.
Remind Them of the Benefits of Treatment
Rather than giving your friend a lecture on the negative aspects of their addiction, try to offer positive alternatives. Talk about the benefits of receiving help from professionals and living without drugs. Also, once they begin accepting help and attending recovery programs, offer to join and support them whenever they need a boost.
When the time comes to seek help for your friend or loved one, Alpha Care Medical provides compassionate care to help community members combat substance abuse. To learn more about how we can help, contact us online or give us a call at (800) 818-8680.
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