Seven Signs and Symptoms: Opioid Prescription Danger

Modern medicine has made life easier for many and has helped extend our lives as well. But with all the good that has come there is also a darker side, one of which is the abuse and addiction that comes with potent pain killers, especially opioids. When a physician prescribes an opioid like oxycodone or hydrocodone there are many side effects and warnings listed on the label, but one that few people ever talk about is addiction. Many physicians do not bring up addiction for fear or turning patients off their medication recommendations and most individuals do not understand how quickly addiction can happen. It is an assumption that drug addiction and abuse happens over time and only in those who have already abused drugs or alcohol – this is a dangerous falsehood.  Addiction can happen quickly — within a few weeks — and depends upon the specific drug. We have seen many people struggle with the addiction of opioid pain medication and have stood there beside families who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to opioid addiction. To help break the chain of addiction we wanted to share some of the warning signs you need to be on the lookout for when it comes to opioid prescription addiction:


What Are Opioids Exactly?

“An opioid is any agent that binds to opioid receptors(protein molecules located on the membranes of some nerve cells) found principally in the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract, and elicits a response” (NAABT). There are four broad classes of opioids:

  • Endogenous opioids which the body produces naturally as hormones and endorphins
  • Opium alkaloids which include potent pain pills likes morphine and codeine
  • Semi-synthetic opioids that include illegal drugs like heroin
  • Fully synthetic and are totally manmade and distinctly difference than naturals


Symptoms to be Looking Out For

According to the Mayo Clinic, the warning signs you need to be on the lookout for when it comes to issues related to prescription opioid painkillers include these physical symptoms and signs:

  • Constipation – severe stomach discomfort can lead to poor eating habits long-term
  • Nausea – upset stomach and occasional vomiting leads to other health issues over time
  • Drowsiness – lack of energy, unusual sleeping habits, apathy, and lack of motivation
  • Slowed breathing – breathing issues, especially when sleeping, is common
  • Confusion – extended use leads to memory and cognitive issues
  • Poor Coordination – fumbling, being clumsy, tripping, falling, and dropping things
  • Increased pain – abuse lowers the pain fighting effect and requires higher dose

You should also be on the lookout for other signs that are more behavioral and characteristic in nature. These can be a little harder to see at first but are often the signs that finally tip of friends and family to the possibility of an opioid problem:

  • Stealing – money for medication or stealing medication from others
  • Intentional overdose – taking more pills at a time than prescribed by doctors
  • Changes in personality – excessive mood swings, new attitudes, unusual aggression
  • Changes in sleep – sleeping more than normal or long bouts of insomnia are common
  • Poor choices – work, school, relationships, finances, and safety are compromised
  • Appearing to be high – more energetic or revved up than normal or overly sedated
  • Doctor-hopping – going to multiple doctors and clinics to get more prescriptions


Getting Help for Opioid Abuse

If you or a loved one has a problem with prescription drug use it is important to talk to someone about it – bring up your concerns with your doctor so an alternative medication can be tried. If someone you know is abusing opioid pain pills and is at risk for overdosing, you need to notify the proper authorities and take steps to get them the help they need- even if they do not want it and even if they do not think they have a problem. Don’t feel embarrassed or fearful of betraying the confidence of a friend or family member. It’s far easier to tackle the problem of prescription drug abuse early. Intervention at the start is essential for success and you need to get help for yourself or someone you know before it becomes a dangerous addiction that leads to more-serious health or life-threatening behaviors. You cannot ignore opioid addiction and abuse!

Addiction is not always the fault of the victim. At Napoli Shkolnik, we believe that a large quantity of opioid addictions are caused by over-prescribing by doctors, and the alleged deceptive marketing practices set in place by the manufacturers and distributors. We have established a task force that is working together with state and local governments to help combat this opioid crisis and fund relief, recovery, and rehabilitation efforts.