It can be challenging to determine if someone is abusing opioids, but any strange habit or suspicion must be taken seriously. If you are using more of a drug, and your daily functioning deteriorates rather than gets better, that is a sign that an addiction is developing.
If you use the medication longer than it is prescribed to you, that is a significant warning sign, too. If you are using it for nonmedical reasons, perhaps because you’re anxious, depressed, or bored, that places you at high risk.
Whether opioids are obtained legally or not, taking the medication should not be satisfying. If you are using them for their intended purpose, you ideally should not experience a high. You may have side effects, such as constipation or nausea, so it should not be pleasant. Once you exceed the amount required for pain control that you get high, this is a cause for concern.
Opioids cause the brain to release dopamine, which triggers the desire to repeat the experience. When the medication is used in high amounts for too long, it can be extremely addictive. It’s important to know when a person is abusing opioids so that they can receive the right help.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), a person must experience at least two of the following 11 symptoms within the past year:
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National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/common-comorbidities-substance-use-disorders/part-1-connection-between-substance-use-disorders-mental-illness
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm
Otman, H. (2016, June 2). Opioids: When the Harms Outweigh the Benefits. Retrieved from https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/health-management/opioids-when-harms-outweigh-benefits