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Signs of Opioid Use Disorder

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Your intuition is heightened. Your loved one, your friend, your co-worker is behaving differently. He or she is sending physical or psychological signals that something is askew. You suspect that Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), sometimes also referred to as Substance Use Disorder (SUD) might be the cause, and you want to help, but you don’t know for sure. What are some of the signs to look for?

Behavioral Symptoms

These are often the earliest signs:

  • Being on the defensive
  • Blaming others
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Isolation and being secretive
  • Changing to a new group of friends
  • Unpredictability
  • Not showing up without notice
  • Abandonment of daily routines or important activities
  • Lack of care in personal hygiene and appearance

Physical Symptoms

Opioid use can be hard on the body. Among the conditions, could be:

  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in physical appearance, like weight gain or loss
  • Pinpoint (constricted) pupils
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation
  • Decrease or increase in sexual desire
  • Needle marks on arms, hands or feet
  • Decreased appetite

Psychological Symptoms

A number of disorders can occur, including:

  • Sudden mood swings from irritability to euphoria
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Decreased motivation

Environmental Symptoms

You might notice some of these occurrences:

  • Doctor shopping
    • obtaining prescriptions from different doctors without previous doctors’ knowledge
    • claiming they have lost their prescription
    • complaining they need a stronger prescription
  • Paraphernalia in rooms or waste cans
    • medication bottles with labels removed
    • burned tinfoil
    • bloodied cotton swabs
    • hose clamps
    • syringes/ needles
    • bent spoons
    • rolled up dollar bills

Some people are predisposed to OUD, especially if they are living in stressful circumstances. Some of these predispositions include:

  • Heavy tobacco use
  • Personal or family history of OUD
  • Childhood trauma, PTSD
  • Previous struggles with depression or anxiety
  • Risk-taking or thrill-seeking tendencies
  • History of problems with work, family, friends
  • History of legal problems

According to the Mayo Clinic website, up to one-third of the people who take opioids for chronic pain, misuse them and 10 percent eventually suffer from OUD.

Important treatment steps should include comprehensive and uniquely tailored methods assessed by a treatment team to provide a possible combination of Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) to taper comfortably while also providing mental and behavioral therapies in order to identify the root cause, stop the use and fully recover.

If someone you know is showing signs of opioid abuse and you’d like to get them help, please contact us today.

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