Also, once someone addicted to opioids is unable to obtain more, they are at-risk of turning to heroin, a cheaper, more readily available street drug. The risk of overdose and death with a heroin addiction is high. Over 15,000 people in the U.S. overdose from heroin every year.
When taken correctly, opioids mask pain, giving patients much-needed relief. Also, opioids provide the user with a distinct, euphoric feeling. The problem lies in opioids chemical makeup and the way the drug interacts with the brain and body. Tolerance happens quickly with opiates, in many cases as soon as the first dose wears off. Patients will frequently begin taking a higher dose or taking the correct dose closer together than their doctor has instructed. Tolerance continues to build until the person runs out of their prescription. Patients may also mix opioids with other drugs or alcohol to get the desired effect.
If a person has a propensity for addiction, and if their pain is unsuccessfully treated by other means, the person may begin to doctor shop or take their friend’s and family’s opioid prescriptions. If the person continues down this path, eventually they will run out of a supply of legal, prescription opioids. At this point, many people will turn to heroin to feed their addiction.
So, what can concerned friends and family do for their loved ones struggling with addiction? The key is education and awareness. Watch out for these signs of untreated opioid addiction: