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Signs Of Opioid Abuse And How Opioid Detox Helps

The United States declared the opioid epidemic through the Department of Health and Human Services in 2017. Since then, resources and studies related to opioids have greatly expanded. There is clearer data on the severity of the situation. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 91,799 people died from a drug overdose in 2020. Approximately 68,900 of those deaths involved an opioid, an increase of 38% from 2019. On average, 187 people die from opioids every day in the United States. The alarming rate of opioid overdoses means treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) is more crucial than ever.

Opioid detox is the first step to a happier life free from opioid addiction.

How to Spot Opioid Abuse

Opioid abuse can be difficult for someone on the outside to recognize. The stigma surrounding opioid abuse makes people feel ashamed of their mental illness. People with OUD tend to keep their actions secret. Often, they will push loved ones away. They might try to hide their drug-seeking behaviors. Yet, there are some noticeable changes that occur in people abusing opioids.  

People abusing opioids in the form of prescription drugs will take the medications “just in case” rather than taking them when they are in pain or as prescribed. They might doctor-shop to get more opioids. They will sleep more than usual and seem lethargic when awake. They exhibit drastic mood swings. Their decisions may seem irrational and impulsive. They may lash out and push away people who confront them. Their pupils will look tiny and constricted. 

When talking with a loved one about opioid use, it is best to get them to cooperate. They might be willing to admit they are using opioids but not willing to admit that it is a problem. If a person can get their loved one to sit down and talk, they can use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) criteria to evaluate the severity of the issue. This will only work if the opioid user is honest, but it is a tool that warrants consideration.

It could potentially help that person accept their drug use as a problem.

Criteria for Opioid Use Disorder

According to the DSM-5, if someone exhibits two or more of the following symptoms for a 12-month period, they can be diagnosed with OUD:

  • Consumes opioids in higher quantities or for longer periods than intended
  • Attempts to decrease or control opioid use without success
  • Spends a lot of time trying to acquire, use, or recover from opioids
  • Experiences cravings or uncontrollable urges to use opioids
  • Fails to fulfill major responsibilities at work, home, or school because of opioids 
  • Continues using opioids in spite of social problems caused by opioid use
  • Gives up or cuts back on meaningful social, recreational, or work-related activities
  • Uses opioids when doing so could be dangerous
  • Continues to take opioids despite the physical or mental problems it causes
  • Develops a tolerance to opioids 
  • Experiences opioid withdrawal or takes opioids to relieve withdrawal symptoms

Why Attend Opioid Detox?

Once a person realizes their problem with opioids, they may wonder why they need to go to a detox center. They might want to stop using on their own. This can be dangerous, however.  Diarrhea, a symptom of opioid withdrawal, can cause dehydration, which can be fatal.  

They also risk choking on their vomit, depending on how severely the withdrawal impacts their digestive system. Opioid drug detox offers 24-hour monitoring for all patients. In addition to continued monitoring, doctors and nurses at a detox center can offer a patient medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for their symptoms.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

MAT offers patients relief from acute symptoms of opioid withdrawal. This can come in the form of anti-nausea medications to prevent vomiting or antidepressants to help with suicidal thoughts. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medications to treat cravings, painful withdrawal, and the euphoric effect of opioids. Currently, three medications are used to treat OUD: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Each functions differently:

  • Buprenorphine: This functions as a partial opioid agonist. It offers some opioid effects at very low levels and lessens the severity of withdrawal symptoms. This helps taper a person off opioids without the severe cravings.
  • Methadone: an analgesic, methadone has pain-relieving properties. It mimics the effect of opioids, preventing any painful withdrawal effects. Additionally, methadone blocks the high created by opioids.
  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone decreases cravings and euphoria.

Buprenorphine and methadone may be used for many months during and after opioid withdrawal. Even when discontinuing the medications, a patient must taper off them slowly. Naltrexone must only be used after a person completes detoxification, so it will typically be administered during rehab or aftercare.

Find Opioid Detox Today with!

If you're trying to help a loved one break free from opioid addiction, it can seem daunting to watch them reject help. You may fear for their safety. This is a reasonable reaction.

Don't lose hope, though. Many people who initially say “no” to treatment come back around when they realize how bad their problem is. Knowing they are loved can help a person feel strong enough to change their future. When your loved one reaches out for help, they'll need to attend a detox program.

The internet’s biggest directory of detox resources, will help you easily find a detox center for your loved one … or yourself. Starting your search is as easy as logging on.

Opioid detox is your key to getting out of the addiction trap. Find your way there with!

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