Getting help for Opioid Addiction

Identifying the Signs of Opioid Abuse and How to Encourage Someone to Go Get Help

One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with drug addiction is how it affects an individual physically and psychologically. Opioid addiction affects not only the addict but everyone in their circle. 

Admitting or identifying the signs of when the addictive cycle has grabbed ahold of you or a loved one’s life is a hard pill to swallow, and one that is often hard for people to solve on their own. 

In other words, this tendency to want to see the best in those we love is a natural tendency.  However, when dealing with addiction it makes the identification of a potential or actual addiction issue even harder for one to spot.

Denial is one of the main risk factors of addiction and is what mainly stops a person from getting the professional help that they need. This is often because the person struggling does not believe that there is help available, and most likely have not found the right resources or places to reach out to. 

We want you to know that access to high-quality treatment is available. There are locations near you who are ready to help people suffering from addiction recovery and get back control over their lives. 

The addiction specialists at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare, strive to educate people on the disease of substance abuse to show that getting help will not only save their lives but help encourage others to do the same. 

We help to identify the signs of drug addiction, with the main goal of breaking this ongoing epidemic through our substance abuse programs, especially for opioid use. 

Breaking The Stigma Of Addiction

Today, it is very common for our community to view addiction as a moral failing on the part of the addict. This is an outmoded view of substance use disorder and has no clinical or medical support. If however we were taught this view of addiction it can be easy to view our loved ones as failing in some respect or as having a moral or constitutional shortcoming. 

Addiction is not a shortcoming, it is a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. In other words, while an addict makes a conscious choice to take drugs and alcohol, it is not their choice or goal to become addicted. The chemicals released in the brain influences the body to become dependent on these substances. As a result, the mind becomes controlled by their addictive nature.

There is no doubt that addiction has a cultural stigma associated with it that needs to end. Just because someone becomes an addict, does not mean they are a bad person. It is not a matter of lack of willpower or moral compass, it is again a disease that takes complete control over one’s life, almost like a possession.  

This stigma surrounding addiction and mental health is counterproductive and is a major factor that is preventing individuals from getting the treatment that they need. It is doing way more harm than good. 

A study done by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health demonstrated that the general public was more likely to have negative attitudes towards those dealing with drug addiction than those with mental illness.

We live in a society where millions of Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol, but sadly, due to many factors, only a small percentage receive treatment at a rehab facility. However, by far, research shows that this burden and stigma placed on those suffering, assuming that they wanted the burden of addiction placed on them, is killing people. 

While accepting that you need help is hard in addition to finding a facility to accommodate one’s needs, not seeking treatment because of feeling immense societal pressure. The main point to drive home is that becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol can happen to anyone. Stigma affects all of us, and the statistics show that we can all do a better job of decreasing this stigma around drug addiction and mental illness. 

Remember, that many people are suffering just like you or your loved one. We don’t view people with cancer or other diseases as burdens, and therefore, addiction should only be viewed as a horrible consequence of a harmful choice, not that a person is bad and deserves it. 

Needing and wanting to get help are two different things. Although, for someone to acknowledge that they need to make a major change in their lives to avoid overdose or death, is a huge first step, and one that can save their life. Therefore, empathy, compassion, and support are crucial in this process. 

Spotting The Signs Of Opioid Addiction

Opioids are potent prescription painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, morphine, and many others. The street drug heroin is also classified as an opiate. These drugs are extremely strong and addictive, and research has shown that addiction to opioids due to overdose has killed more people than car crashes. 

Opioid use has become a worldwide epidemic, and therefore, as with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, the sooner we can identify a potential substance abuse such as opioid use disorder (OUD) as it develops, the closer we will be to ending this severe ongoing prescription drug problem. Most importantly, early detection will also help to ensure that people receive the treatment that they need, to have a successful recovery and achieve long-term sobriety. 

However, with other chronic illnesses, the sufferer once diagnosed freely admits they have a problem. Those with a substance use disorder, especially with opioids, this is almost always not the case.

For people with addiction, there is an inability of the suffer to admit they have a problem. Therefore, it is important to find resources that can help spot the signs of opioid addiction before it is too late. 

There are many early signs and symptoms of opioid addiction, and addiction in general, that could prove useful for the loved ones of anyone currently using opioids and other addictive substances. 

The Signs of Opioid Addiction Include:

  1. Loss of control over the amount of a substance consumed
  2. Unexplained or excessive absences from work or school 
  3. An extreme change in behavior, resulting in negative consequences at work and school
  4. Extreme mood changes and increased levels of stress
  5. Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that used to be important
  6. Withdrawal from friend and family relationships
  7. Important engagements are not attended or fulfilled
  8. The individual continues to use despite consequences
  9. Drug and alcohol us a consistent topic of conversation
  10. Disrupted sleep patterns (Sleeps far more or far less than usual)
  11. Persistent financial problems due to buying opioids 
  12. Rapid weight loss

The above list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible scenario. Everyone and their case of addiction are different. The list above is meant to give a rough picture of the emotional, mental, and behavioral changes that can be an early sign of an opioid use disorder.  If you are concerned that a loved one may be suffering from this type of drug addiction, it is important to seek a consultation with a qualified professional immediately. 

How to Discuss Treatment Options With A Loved One

While it is true that we can never make someone do something they don’t want to do, in the case of addiction, sometimes things have to happen in order for it to get better. Therefore, it is important to discuss treatment with your loved one, despite how hard it may be. 

As mentioned before, the bad news is that only one in three people tend to seek help for addiction. Research shows that these are the people that most likely need it the most, but don’t for various reasons. 

One major reason people don’t seek help is due to self-reliance. This is something that is embedded in our psyche, but in the case of addiction, self-reliance becomes an issue. When a disease such as addiction takes control, it does in all aspects of a person’s life. 

Dependency is the opposite of self-reliance, and when someone is sick, most likely they either don’t realize they need help or want to, but can’t due to certain things burdening them. Many people who are sick have a lack of insight and simply do not think they are sick. This is why, oftentimes, it takes the good people in their lives to guide them back to reality, even though it is difficult. 

Stigma is a huge factor in why people don’t receive help, as they often feel ashamed, embarrassed, and weak to admit it, due to the skewed perception and cruelty of society. A person with an addiction to opioids is not a burden. 

While it was a choice to take these harmful substances despite the consequences, wanting to become addicted to them was not a choice. Addicts need help, and should not feel like they can’t receive it. 

This is why it is crucial for friends and family to step in to help their loved ones realize that they need to seek treatment, but without meddling. Rather than meddling, people on the outside have the opportunity and power to save someone’s life. 

Here are the steps you can take to help your loved one seek professional treatment:

  1. Let your loved one know that you would like to have an important conversation with them, but only when it is a good time and place.
  2. During the conversation speak firmly, but approach your loved one or friend with empathy. Remember that they are struggling, so, support and understanding are what matters most. For example, you may say, “I know this is extremely hard for you, but I’m talking to you about your struggles with pain and the medication you are taking because I love you. If I didn’t care, we wouldn’t be having this talk.” Be prepared for the person to be upset, and try to not get defensive. Use statements with “I” in it, such as “I am concerned for and about you.” Don’t ever use words like crazy or abnormal.
  3. Facilitate the process by finding a professional and scheduling an appointment at the rehab facility. Even if they refuse to go, you should still meet with the doctor or specialists to be prepared and one step ahead. Then, you can talk to your loved one and all the ways it could help them. 
  4. Tell them that rehab isn’t a place that will suffocate them, but a place of love and support surrounded with people who are sorting out similar things. Remind them that while they took bad substances, it is not their fault, and they will recover from this, but with hard work and determination. Most, importantly that they will be supported every step of the way. These words will most likely generate some motivation to get help, even with some reluctance at first. 

Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare Can Help

If you find yourself wondering if you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, specifically with opioids, please reach out to the specialists of Granite Mountain BHC right away.  We can provide an evaluation that may save years of heartache for your loved one and your family, and in many cases may save his or her life. Contact us today by calling (877) 389-0412. We are here to help. 

References 

Article Reviewed by Gregory Struve

Gregory StruveGreg received a Master’s in Counseling from the Adler Graduate School in 2006. He trained at one of the top trauma and anxiety treatment centers in the world until 2008, when he became a faculty member at Grand Canyon University. From 2011 to 2016 he directed a program that lead the field in terms of innovative treatment of anxiety and trauma. During that time he even made several appearances on A&E’s intervention.

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