Every addiction has a story. I know thousands of them. Not all of them end happily. We strive to make that happen but even with addiction recovery treatment it doesn’t always work. But it NEVER ends happily when no treatment is ever sought. Some of the hardest stories and most heartbreaking stories are not from the addict themselves, but the family that has to live through it with them. For me, support of the family is just as important as treatment of the patient. Let’s take some time and go over what you as the family will see and what you can expect.

Our Number One Problem in Albuquerque

Opiate addiction is the number one problem in our area. It is important to know a few things about it to best help your loved one. You need to know what it is, what you will see, and when to seek help. Let’s start with what it does to the body to understand what it is.

Prolonged use of opiates can lead to nerve damage within the brain that causes cells to stop producing endogenous opiates (natural painkillers known as endorphins). This can lead to an inability for the body to stop pain because there are no endorphins to mask the pain initially.

The degeneration of the nerve cells that reduce pain can lead to a physical dependence on opiates as an external supply source. This leads to what is known as opiate addiction.

Opiates come in various forms, the two most common are heroin and prescription painkillers.

The Facts: Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is when anyone uses a prescription drug for nonmedical reasons. There is an estimated 20% of people in the United States that have abused prescription drugs. This is a very serious and growing problem.

Experts are not sure why this is such a growing trend. It is mostly being attributed to the availability of the drugs. Doctors are prescribing drugs for more health problems than ever before. The ease with which people can get those prescriptions filled is also a major contributor. Especially since the creation of online pharmacies have made it easier to get a prescription filled without having a legitimate prescription.

I personally believe the fact that people can get the pills paid for by insurance is a contributing factor as well. The drug dealer down on the corner won’t take your Blue Cross card. But the dealer on the corner will sell you heroin. We need to be vigilant of both types of this drug.

Signs of Drug Abuse

Many of the signs and symptoms of opiate addiction can be difficult to spot because you can’t see some of the obvious signs right away. A lot of the time, the user will hide the signs of their addiction in a way that will prevent others from recognizing the problem. The common signs you need to watch for are:

  • Track marks or needle marks – these come from shooting heroin or other opiates intravenously

  • Lethargic or heavy limbs –heroin and other opiates can make the limbs seem heavy and long

  • Wearing long sleeves – many users will wear pants or long sleeves to cover up their needle marks

  • Hanging out with different groups – many opiate users will choose other groups to hang around with that also do drugs rather than spend time with their previous friends who did not use opiates

  • Borrowing money without explanation – many users will borrow excessive amounts of money without any explanation why

  • Slovenly appearances – many opiate users will become slovenly in appearance and not take care of themselves

  • Excessive sleeping – opiates will often cause drowsiness that can lead to excessive sleeping

  • Weight gain – because opiates lead to fatigue many people who become addicted will gain weight

  • Weight loss – because of the excessive sleep and lack of self-help, many opiate addicts will lose weight

If you believe your loved one may be struggling with opiate addiction please get them to take the questionnaire on our website here at Assessments. If it comes back that they need to seek help please call us right away.

On our next blog post we will go over the treatment process for opiate addiction so make sure and check back for that.

– Paul