GRAND Magazine - May/June 2019 - 24

Health

Opioid abuse: signs and symptoms -
a hard pill to swallow
I
BY TARA YOMBOR

dentifying the signs of opioid abuse may be difficult as typically the
loved one of an addict does not want to acknowledge the signs of
addiction. Living in denial can be easy and the reality that someone
you love is abusing opioids can be heartbreaking and overwhelming.
Also, each person can show signs of addiction differently. Some may
isolate, become angry or hostile. Others who have built a stronger
dependence for the drug may physically need the substance in order
to act as what we would consider to be "normal."
Opioids (narcotics) are a type of pain relieving drug either prescribed by a doctor or bought off the street. Some of these pain
relievers include Oxycodon, Roxicet, Hydrocodone, Fentanyl,
Tramadol, Methadone, and Dilaudid. Most addicts who begin their
addiction through doctor prescribed opioids, typically transition to synthetic street drugs, such as heroin, due to cost.
Behavioral symptoms of opioid abuse include frequent visits to doctors (known as "doctor shopping"), decreased performances at work or
school, isolation, lack of interest in activities, ignoring responsibilities,
avoidance of eye contact and communication, irritability, defensiveness, and anger outbursts.

"

"

If you suspect someone
you care about is abusing opioids,
trust your instinct

Physical symptoms include slowed motor movements, lethargic
behavior, or nodding in and out of alertness (often referred to as "the
nod"). Physical withdrawal symptoms manifest as chills, body aches,
muscle pains, anxiety, vomiting, or diarrhea. Some persons with these
24 GRAND

MAY JUNE 2019

symptoms may claim they have the flu to deter loved ones from questioning their withdrawal symptoms.
Cognitive symptoms include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts,
or self-injurious acts (i.e. cutting, burning, or scratching of the skin).
Memory impairment and lack of attention are other symptoms.
If you suspect someone you care about is abusing opioids, trust
your instinct. Often we make excuses to justify that person's behavior.
Compassionately confront them about their change in behavior and
let them know you are there to help. Do not shame or judge them for
their addiction; more than likely, they are already shaming and judging
themselves.
Contact a substance abuse treatment center for options and how
they can be of assistance. There are interventionists and therapists who
can assist you and your family with getting your loved one into treatment. Psychology Today is an online resource to find local therapists in your area. The sooner you are able to address their addiction,
the better chance they have for a lifetime of recovery.
12-step programs such as Alanon, Naranon, and Families
Anonymous are available at no cost for loved ones of addicts to find
support, gain insight into addiction, and learn how to set boundaries.
Know you are not alone. You are one of over two million people
with a loved one struggling with an opioid addiction. There is hope
and a better way of life is possible.
Tara Yombor, LMHC received her BA in Psychology from
Michigan State University and her Masters in Mental Health
Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. She has
been working in the substance abuse field for over 10 years
in various capacities. Tara began her career as an intern at a
treatment center for pregnant women in Boulder, CO and
is now the Clinical Director of Pathway to Hope a Delphi
Behavioral Health Group facility in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

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https://www.facebook.com/GRANDmagazine/ https://www.twitter.com/grandMmagazine https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/treatment-rehab https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/treatment-rehab https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/treatment-rehab https://www.pathwaytohope.net/ https://www.delphihealthgroup.com/ https://www.delphihealthgroup.com/

GRAND Magazine - May/June 2019

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