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How to Recognize Opioid Dependence

Addictions come in many forms – alcohol, sex, and drugs are just a few. Opioids are a class of drugs that people can become addicted to — whether used illegally to get a high or used medically to help with pain — causing various mental and physical problems.

Recognizing the signs of opioid dependence isn't always easy, especially when the affected person doesn't want help. However, knowing those signs could save their life. As opioid dependence progresses, it's more likely to cause dangerous complications and life-threatening issues.

If you're concerned about someone you love who’s living with opioid dependence, Dr. Lori Scott and the team at Lori Scott Family Care in Kinston, North Carolina, can help. Dr. Scott is an addiction expert who offers suboxone therapy and other treatments to reverse opioid dependence in those seeking a healthier life.

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of medication that doctors use for pain management. Your brain has opioid receptors that work with the medications, reducing pain and the perception of pain in the body. Taking opioids triggers a type of euphoria that makes your brain happy, which is why people often abuse them.

Natural opioids such as heroin and morphine come from the poppy plant. Others come from synthetic materials in a lab. Opioids include:

When you take opioid medications or drugs, it triggers your brain to release endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals. Endorphins reduce pain and trigger feelings of pleasure and well-being, but they're short-lived.

Once the endorphins wear off, most people yearn for that feeling again, which is how opioid dependence occurs.

Risk factors for opioid dependence

Anyone who takes opioids for pain is at risk for dependence, but some are at a higher risk than others. People with a greater risk of opioid dependence:

How you use opioids also increases your risk of dependence. For example, crushing pills and snorting them or injecting them into your bloodstream raises your chances of opioid dependence significantly.

Signs of opioid dependence

Noticing the signs of opioid dependence isn't always easy – especially when you're not looking for it. However, there are some telltale signs and symptoms to be aware of. Physical signs of opioid use include:

Most people living with opioid dependence also have issues in their personal lives. You may notice changes in their work, school, or social interactions. These changes may include any of the following:

Even if someone wants to stop using opioids, it's often difficult. Most people living with opioid dependence experience symptoms of withdrawal when they try to cut down or quit taking opioids.

Symptoms of withdrawal

Withdrawal from opioids is dangerous to deal with alone. It may produce severe symptoms that are hard to control without professional care and treatment. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

Seeing symptoms of withdrawal is a significant sign someone is dealing with opioid dependence. 

Although it may seem hopeless when such a highly addictive drug is involved, treatment can help. Dr. Scott evaluates your loved one's symptoms to determine the best treatment route for their needs. She offers counseling and suboxone therapy to help them stop taking opioids safely.

Call Lori Scott Family Care today at 252-513-1749 or request a consultation online to learn more about our treatment options for opioid dependence.

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