Signs Your Loved One Has an Opioid Addiction

Published: 01/10/18

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Maybe you’ve heard about the dangers of opioids in the media and think that it’s not something you need to worry about. But if someone in your life has been recently prescribed a pain management drug, it may not hurt to pay closer attention to some of their behaviors.

Opioids are highly addictive. While your relative’s common practice of popping an extra Vicodin is easy to shrug off, it could actually be your first clue that something more severe is happening.

Frequently, though, warning signs that someone you know could be struggling with an opioid addiction are often more subtle, so you may have to pay attention to a few of the finer details, including:

Loss or change of interests. Maybe you know of a hobby or activity that your loved one previously enjoyed, but lately their interest has tapered off. Have you noticed that they’ve fallen behind on their work commitments or haven’t been engaging in their typical social activities? Perhaps they’ve been spending time with a different crowd. It’s common for people struggling with addiction to withdraw or change the interests that used to fascinate them.

Irritability. Has your loved one been acting a bit on edge, anxious or jumpy? They say they’ve got a lot going on or they’re just stressed, but the addicted brain is constantly thinking about the next fix, which could be leading to agitation. The next time you’re out and about with your loved one, pay attention to their anxiety and eagerness to rush through your errands and get back home to their medications.

Doctor shopping. Is your loved one searching for a new doctor? While it’s not unheard of to change care providers, if your loved one is choosing to discard a long-term family doctor in favor of someone brand new, they may be on the hunt for a provider to write a no-questions-asked prescription.

Dishonesty. In romantic relationships, shared financial responsibility is a common practice nowadays. Has your spouse or significant other been unable to explain or account for the disappearance of money? Maybe your friend or loved one is suddenly struggling to pay bills despite having stable employment. When an addict can no longer obtain prescription opioids, they often look to the streets to acquire pills or heroin from dealers, and they’ll need cash to get them.

These examples are not all-inclusive, and any one of them on their own may not justify a conversation or intervention. But if you begin to notice a trend of unusual behaviors in someone you know, it could be a sign that it’s time to step in.