Watching someone you love suffer is among the hardest things there is in this world.
The despair that comes with it, the uncertainty, the feelings of helplessness and the unending worry all grow worse by the day.
Emotions run raw and you look back wondering what you could’ve done differently to have avoided this scenario.
It’s a natural reaction.
While the past can’t be changed you can influence the future. There is a chance to right the ship so to speak and an opioid intervention can be a powerful motivator.
The question is when to make that move.
We’ll circle back to that in a moment.
What Are Opioids?
It’s instructive to know more about opioids and what an opioid addiction looks like.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines prescription opioids as “a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Some prescription opioids are made from the plant directly, and others are made by scientists in labs using the same chemical structure. Opioids are often used as medicines because they contain chemicals that relax the body and can relieve pain. Prescription opioids are used mostly to treat moderate to severe pain, though some opioids can be used to treat coughing and diarrhea”
You’ll know prescription opioids aka legal opioids, from brands like OxyContin or Vicodin.
An Illegal opioid on the other hand is heroin which has essentially the same effects.
The definition also mentions lab-made opioids or synthetic opioids. This is referring to an opioid like fentanyl which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
From 1999 to 2019, nearly 841,000 people have died from a drug overdose according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They add that “overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2019, and nearly 73% of those deaths involved synthetic opioids”.
What Are the Signs of An Opioid Addiction?
This is critical.
Understanding when someone transitions from being in control to being controlled by an opioid is huge when it comes to knowing when to step in.
Here are the signs of opioid addiction:
- Unable to cut back or stop using
- Work, home and school life are hurting
- Relationships with family and friends begin to fall apart, increased isolation
- A tolerance develops meaning that they have to take larger and larger doses to get the same high
- Experiencing intense cravings
- Financial difficulties
- Legal troubles related to finding more opioids, i.e., stealing
- Doctor shopping in order to get more prescriptions
- Lack of attention to personal hygiene
- Decreased motivation
- Drowsiness and slurred speech
- Irritability and mood swings
- Shift in sleeping patterns
- Going through withdrawal symptoms if not using
You may not notice all these things all at once but as soon as they begin to crop up, don’t dismiss it as a phase. Opioids are intensely addictive and once someone is hooked it tends to get worse when left unimpeded.
How to Know When It’s Time to Stage an Opioid Intervention
That all brings us back to the question of when. When do you reach a breaking point as a family member or friend?
There’s no specific point, to be honest. Each individual is an individual and their circumstances are all unique. A key consideration is about control; can they control their opioid use or is it controlling them?
Once an addiction truly takes hold it begins to dictate the choices a person makes. Life becomes about the pursuit of opioids, if your loved one is at the stage or you feel like they’re nearing it, it’s vital to talk to someone about the next steps and if it’s the right time for an intervention.
At Footprints of Serenity, we have decades of experience that can help guide you to an answer that’s right for your loved one. Reach out to us and let’s talk about it.