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Signs That Someone Has an Opioid Addiction

What are Opioids?

Opioids are highly addictive prescription medications and illicit drugs. Anyone can easily develop a dependence or addiction to opioids even when used as prescribed. Illicit opioids like heroin are also highly habit forming, with many developing an addiction after just a few uses. The opioid epidemic has become a severe health problem in the US and leads to thousands of overdose deaths every year. Many people with heroin addiction started off with a prescription opioid addiction and then turned to heroin when their prescription ran out.

Contact The Detox Center of Los Angeles today at (888) 346-4350 to learn how to access our addiction treatment programs.

Fortunately, comprehensive addiction treatment programs can help anyone overcome opioid or heroin addiction, no matter how severe. Although, catching opioid abuse early on can provide a better chance at recovery. Knowing the signs someone is high on opioids may help save someone’s life. If you suspect your loved one is abusing opioids, especially after having an opioid painkiller prescription, you can help them with the addiction treatment they need to overcome it.

What Does Opioid Intoxication Look Like?

Several types of opioids are available and will affect the body at different rates. Opioids have different speeds they take effect and are eliminated as well as different potencies. No matter which one it is, opioid intoxication can be lethal due to its effects on the central nervous system which slows down breathing and heart rate. Immediate signs someone is high on opioids include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsy appearance
  • Pinpointed pupils
  • Slower movements
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure and body temperature
  • Slower heart rate
  • Less physical pain
  • Euphoric or “high” feeling

Just as with other types of substance abuse, opioid abuse and addiction can lead to changes in behavior resulting in decreased work performance, relationship issues, legal problems, and immoral behavior like lying. There are some physical, behavioral, and mood changes you can look for too to indicate the person has an opioid use disorder, including:

  • Needle marks or “track marks” on arms and legs
  • Flushed, itchy skin
  • Falling asleep at inappropriate times or trouble staying awake
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Weight loss
  • Impulsive actions and decision making
  • Visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies for more prescriptions
  • Risk taking activities like driving under the influence
  • Withdrawing from activities once enjoyed
  • Isolation
  • Stealing or lying
  • Unexplained periods of absence
  • Neglecting work, school or personal responsibilities
  • Neglecting physical appearance

Opioid Addiction

Why Opioids are So Addictive

The causes of opioid addiction are complex and result in a combination of lifestyle, genetic, and environmental factors. Opioid addiction is usually severe and affects the physical, behavioral, and emotional aspects of a person. When opioids are ingested, they affect opioid receptors found in the nervous system. As they bind to these receptors, they cause chemical changes and communication between neurons which leads to feelings of euphoria and pain relief.

When a person begins to take opioids on a regular basis, the brain and body start to rely on these chemical changes. The person also begins to build up a tolerance, meaning they need more of the medication or drug to get the same effect. With continued use, even within a couple of weeks, the body develops a dependence on these drugs to create these feel-good endorphins. When the person attempts to stop using opioids, the body does not know how to function without the drug and develops withdrawal symptoms and cravings. They may continue to keep using to reduce uncomfortable opioid withdrawals and cravings, which include:

  • Chills
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Severe muscle, joint, and bone pain
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Flu-like feelings

Physical dependence can lead to abuse, meaning the person is taking more than the medication that was prescribed or used in a way other than prescribed, such as mixing with alcohol or without pain present. At this stage, the drug begins to disrupt signals in your brain that control decision making and judgment, which makes it difficult to control the impulse to use opioids even though you want to stop. Once there is an uncontrollable compulsion to use, opioid addiction has developed. If they can no longer get access to opioid painkillers, often they will turn to illicit heroin.

How to Help Someone with Opioid Addiction

If someone you love has begun to show addictive behaviors, getting them help as soon as possible is best for long-term recovery. The first thing you have to remember is that drug and alcohol addiction is a brain disease and opioid addiction affects decision making, impulse control, and cognitive processes. Confronting the person about their opioid use can be difficult and often the person will be in denial or defensive about it. It may take you several attempts to get them to become aware of their problem and open to getting addiction treatment. Here are steps to take to get your loved one addiction treatment help:

  1. Educate yourself. Know about addiction, detox, withdrawal, and various treatment options so you can approach the situation calmly and with confidence.
  2. Offer your support. Try not to sound condescending or judgmental. Let them know you are aware it is not their fault but a disorder, and that you are there to support them and their treatment options.
  3. Offer to go to therapy. You can go to couples or family therapy together so a counselor can better guide you through the situation. They may also be nervous to get help by themselves so this is a great way to introduce them to addiction treatment.
  4. Create an intervention plan. If they do not want to go to treatment but continue down the path of addiction, staging an intervention can be helpful. The most effective interventions are with a specialist.

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Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction

There are several treatment options for opioid addiction, however the most effective are composed of several levels of care, which include:

Medical Detox: inpatient detox program will provide around the clock care and medications to successfully and comfortably stop opioid use.

Residential Inpatient Treatment: the most intensive form of treatment that requires the person to live at the treatment facility for their program. This is a great way to separate the person from the outside world and allow them to fully focus on their recovery.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): similar in treatment intensity to inpatient treatment, however, you go home or to a sober living facility at the end of the day.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): less intensive treatment program where you live at home or sober living facility, but may allow you to continue work or school schedules.

Outpatient Program: less than 9 hours a week of treatment and allows for plenty of flexibility.

Overcoming Opioid Addiction at Novo Detox

Novo Detox offers comprehensive treatment plans that are tailored to each person and allow us to treat any opioid addiction severity. Our detox program can help you stop using opioids with around the clock medical care and FDA approved medications. You can then easily transition into our inpatient rehab program which will address the behavioral and psychological aspects of opioid addiction. Novo Detox is a luxury rehab in Los Angeles that allows you to go through addiction recovery treatment in a resort-like environment with specialized adjunct therapies like yoga, nutrition, meditation, and more which will make the process less stressful and allow your body to heal more easily. Our integrative approach helps heal the body, mind, and spirit to help you or your loved one achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction.

Please give us a call at (888) 346-4350  to learn more about our detox and inpatient rehab programs and start the recovery process today.


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Will my insurance cover treatment for addiction?

The Detox Center of L.A. accepts most major insurance providers and private healthcare policies. We offer free insurance verification as well as eligibility and benefits for both behavioral and mental health treatment services. Please fill out our insurance verification form here to verify your insurance.

What happens in addiction

Effective addiction treatment programs are tailored to each individual. Because of this, it will be a different experience for everyone. However, it generally involves a combination of detoxification, group and individual therapy, educational presentations, and aftercare planning in order to ensure long-term recovery. Upon arrival at The Detox Center of L.A., you can expect our professionally trained staff to create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs and treatment goals.