Out of the 70,200 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 68% of those deaths involved opioids.

The number of deaths from drug overdoses continues to rise–nearly 700,000 people died from an overdose from 1999-2017.

When you think of opiates, you may think of street drugs such as heroin. However, the opioid crisis is also due to prescription opioids such as morphine.

Symptoms of Addiction to Prescription Opiates

Opiates are narcotic drugs derived from the opium poppy flower. They fall under the category of opioids–which include naturally-derived and synthetically made narcotic drugs. However, both types are highly addicting and dangerous.

Common prescription opiates include:

  • Morphine
  • OxyContin
  • Codein
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocodone

Symptoms of opiate abuse include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Slowed breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Coordination problems
  • State of confusion
  • Dry mouth and nose
  • Slurred speech
  • Depression
  • Needing to take higher doses for pain relief

Many of these are short-term effects of opioid abuse. Long-term effects include tolerance to the drug.

prescription opiate signs and symptoms

After a while, the user’s body gets used to the effects of the drug. They will need to take a higher dose to get the same euphoric feeling. The more opioids a person takes, the more their tolerance builds up.

Eventually, the user will develop drug dependence. This happens when your body changes from the long-term effects of the drug.

This results in withdrawal symptoms when the user stops taking the drug. An addict can have mild or severe withdrawal symptoms.

If your loved one is addicted to opiates, you will also notice changes in their behavior and appearance. For physical signs, you may notice constricted pupils that look like small pinpoints.

You may also notice that the user’s skin is flushed or itchy. They may have difficulty sleeping and may be physically agitated. Your loved one may also have needle marks on their arms or legs.

Warning Signs a Loved One May be Abusing Prescription Opiates

There are behavioral signs to watch out for as well. You may notice that the user has trouble staying awake. They may seem exhausted and may fall asleep during the day.

Someone who has an opiate addiction may also withdraw from social activities. You may also notice that they’re impulsive and take part in risky behaviors.

Your loved one may also go to the doctor often in an attempt to get more prescription medication.

Other behaviors include stealing prescriptions or selling prescriptions. They may exhibit hostile behavior or major mood swings. When they’re high, they may seem alert and energetic.

A user can also have increased sensitivity to stimuli around them. They can be hyper-vigilant or aware.

Is My Child Using Prescription Opiates?

Do you suspect your child is using prescription opiates? From 1999-2016, there were nearly 9000 opioid deaths in children and adolescents. The mortality rate for adolescents and opioid-related deaths has increased 3-fold in that time period.

Take notice of your child’s behavior. Do they seem withdrawn and not interested in their usual social activities? Do they have the above symptoms?

Although prescription drug abuse can happen at any stage of life, teens and young adults are at the highest risk. They may try drugs due to peer pressure or to relieve stress.

Is My Parent Using Prescription Opiates?

If your parent has a history with substance abuse, they’re at a higher risk of developing an addiction. Another risk factor is if they have prescription opiates at home.

Another danger for older adults is if they mix their prescription drugs with other substances such as alcohol

Prescription opiate addiction has major medical effects and complications. An addict may have difficulty breathing. They may stop breathing and can go into a coma.

Intervention for Prescription Opiates Drug Abuse

If you know your loved one has a prescription opiate addiction, it may be time to stage an intervention.

Hire an intervention specialist to help. The specialist can help you put together an intervention team and guide you through the intervention. They can also be a neutral voice during this emotionally overwhelming time.

Choose your intervention team carefully. You want your team to consist of the addicted person’s loved ones and who have a strong relationship with them.

Plan what you will say to your loved one. You can write it down and do a practice run with your team.

You can also plan ahead the order that everyone will speak. This prevents everyone from talking at once and stressing your loved one out. The point of the intervention is to have your loved one get help–not to shame them or guilt them.

Make sure to choose an appropriate time and location for the intervention. Choose a neutral location such as the intervention specialist’s office. Your loved one should be sober.

You also want to offer the addict solution. You can find a treatment center that their insurance covers.

You can’t predict how your loved one will react. Be prepared for them to be angry, to cry, or to try to pick a fight. Control your emotions and don’t engage your loved one in an argument.

If the intervention fails, be prepared to stage another one when the time is right.

Prescription Opiates Symptoms and Warning Signs: Final Thoughts

Drug addiction takes a toll on the user, and it takes a toll on their loved ones. You suffer too as you watch your loved one struggle and withdraw from the world.

If you want to learn more about how to stage an intervention and get your loved one the help they need, contact us.