Opiates are often prescribed as short-term pain relievers, and they are very effective for this purpose. However, they do have a dark downside: they're addicting. Many people develop an opiate addiction that begins when they are prescribed these medications and continues when they keep seeking the pills on the street even after their prescription has run out.
Since there is still a lot of stigma surrounding opiate addiction, addicts are often quiet and secretive about their problems. So a loved one may not come to you directly and admit they're struggling with opiate addiction. Instead, you will need to keep your eyes out for these signs.
Bouts of flu-like symptoms
When someone starts to withdraw from opiates, they tend to develop flu-like symptoms, including nausea, fatigue, and a fever. If your loved one seems to be getting sick with flu-like symptoms quite often, this could be a sign of opiate addiction. They're getting sick when they run out of meds. If they always seem to leave the house after feeling sick and then come back feeling better, this further points towards addiction. They're going out to obtain opiates.
Isolating from friend and family members
Does your loved one seem to be spending a lot of time alone, locked in their room? This is sometimes a sign of addiction. They may want to be alone right after taking a dose since they fear their high will be obvious. They'll also want to be alone when their dose wears off since they'll get drowsy and cranky.
Many people who are addicted to opiates lose weight rather rapidly. The drugs interfere with appetite, to the extent that some people barely eat for days when struggling with addiction. You may also notice that your loved one picks at their food or has become really picky.
You may also notice that your loved one starts to struggle financially. Buying opiates on the street is not cheap. Some people will rack up huge credit card bills because they spend all of their money on drugs and have to put their bills on credit cards. Others may steal from friends or family members to fuel their habit.
If you notice the signs above, approach your loved one quietly and calmly, and talk to them about opiate addiction. There are plenty of treatment centers that can help, but first, they need to admit they are struggling and decide to seek care.
To learn more about opioid addiction and treatment options, reach out to a local medical health professional.