Person considering the signs of opioid dependence

Signs of Opioid Dependence

If you’ve had an injury or surgery, you may have been prescribed opioids to manage pain. However, you may have also been surprised at what happens as you heal. It may only take a short period of misuse before signs of opioid dependence arise. You may not realize how much you’ve relied on opioids until you try to stop taking them.

When this happens, you may be unsure of what to do next and even have trouble accepting the idea of getting treatment. However, it’s important to remember that opioid dependence is a treatable condition. With the help of a medical professional, you can overcome this difficult time and return to living a healthy life. Learn more about substance use disorders (SUDs), substance dependence, signs of opioid abuse, and how to start addiction recovery by calling 1.844.768.0169

What’s the Difference Between Substance Abuse and Substance Dependence?

While they may seem similar, there is a big difference between substance abuse and dependence. Substance abuse occurs when you use a drug despite the negative consequences it causes in your life. For example, you may keep using opioids even though it’s affecting your job or relationship. Substance dependence occurs when you feel like you need a drug to function. This means that you may keep using opioids even if you don’t want to. Opioid dependence can lead to addiction, a chronic and relapsing disease.

The main difference between substance abuse and dependence is how individuals prioritize their use. According to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), 11 key behaviors define a SUD, some of which are:

  • Activities and hobbies are given up to use
  • Cravings
  • Hazardous use
  • Interpersonal problems related to use
  • Repeated attempts to control substance use or quit

Substance abuse is present when an individual shows two or three of these behaviors. These cases are called mild SUDs. If an individual sees the risk and changes their use, they can reduce the chance of substance dependence. They may need counseling or other support to make these changes or find ways to do this independently. According to many studies, an individual with substance dependence has a high tolerance. They will experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop without professional help. An individual struggling with substance dependence may show other addictive substance misuse behaviors, but this isn’t always the case. 

Signs of opioid dependence can arise even when medications are taken correctly. Doctors should closely monitor any opioid medication use of their patients. Addiction involves compulsive use and many unwanted life consequences. 

How to Recognize Signs of Opioid Abuse

There are many signs of opioid abuse, and they vary depending on the individual. The most common sign is continuing to use opioids even though it’s causing problems in their life. Other symptoms may include:

  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Increased secrecy
  • Lying or making excuses
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Poor hygiene

Withdrawal symptoms can also occur when stopping use. If you or someone you know is showing signs of opioid abuse, it’s vital to seek professional help as soon as possible. SUD treatment can help you regain control of your life. 

How to Recognize Signs of Opioid Withdrawal

Individuals struggling with physical dependence will experience withdrawal symptoms, especially as their tolerance for the substance of choice continues to increase. Withdrawal symptoms may not show up immediately if their use is ongoing, but symptoms can appear quickly when the substance leaves the body. Withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and the urge to relieve symptoms can lead to continued misuse. Withdrawal symptoms progress from mild to severe over several hours or a few days. These symptoms can go from mild overall discomfort to disruptive digestive issues and can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting

Tolerance and withdrawal are the two critical factors in substance dependence. Withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to manage alone. Fortunately, there are reliable ways to treat opioid dependence. These include medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and behavioral therapy. Some people may do well with both. Medication can help your body keep functioning. It’s a safer substitute that prevents withdrawal. 

Seek Help for Opioid Dependence at The Right Step Houston

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid dependence, The Right Step Houston can help. Our evidence-based treatment programs offer a wide range of services to those in need. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff will be with you each step of the way.

Our staff members understand how difficult it is to ask for help, but trying to quit alone can be dangerous. Our goal is to make treatment as comfortable and practical as possible. With help from medications, you can start recovery safely. For more information about opioid dependence treatment, call us at 1.844.768.0169.

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