The National Opiate Epidemic – Signs Your Loved One Is Addicted to Opiates

When you hear the term “opiate”, it’s not hard to associate it with opium because of its similarity in sound. This is because the word “opiate” does refer to the natural components that are taken from the opium poppy. However, it is also interchangeably used with the term “opioid”. An opioid is a term used to describe the synthetic and semi-synthetic counterparts of opiates. Now, it’s also used to call prescription drugs that mimic the effects of opium.


What is opium?

Opium is the drug that comes from the opium poppy. It is widely known both for its medicinal purposes and its highly addictive effects on humans. The analgesic alkaline morphine found in opium is the substance used to produce heroin which is a kind of opiate.


The Problem with Opiates and Opioids

Because opioids are also prescription drugs, there is a high chance that people will get addicted to it. When there is regular use of opioids, a certain tolerance will develop and this would require bigger doses for the drugs to take effect. In 2015, there were around 20,000 people who died due to opiate and opioid overdose. These overdoses were not because they took illegal drugs. The saddening fact is that they were deaths caused by painkillers that were bought through prescriptions.

Opiate addiction is one of the major drug issues in the United States and it has plagued a lot of families and relationships. Although there are regulations to ensure that overdose will not happen, these regulations are far from enough when it comes to preventing addiction.

Symptoms of Opiate Addiction

To be able to recognize signs of opiate and opioid addiction, you must first understand what it means to be addicted. Addiction describes the state wherein the person develops a dependency towards something – whether it’s a drug, a habit, etc. Addiction affects the brain which affects the other aspects of the person.

Here are the common symptoms to know if your relative or friend is addicted to opiates:


  1. Mood swings

One of the more obvious symptoms are spikes in one’s mood. There will be times that the opiate dependent will feel euphoric and after a while, he or she would feel a crash in their emotions. It’s similar to an up and down ride in their feelings.

  1. Confusion and drowsiness

There will also be times that the opiate dependent will feel confused, wondering what’s going on in their surroundings. They can also experience frequent drowsiness after their energy spikes. However, the opposite can also be felt. There are some that instead of being drowsy, they become wide awake and feel very anxious throughout the day. One of the extreme symptoms when it comes to sleep is an abrupt passing out.


  1. Unusual breathing

When it comes to breathing, this can vary. The person can experience shallow breaths and after a while, erratic breathing. Because opiate overdose can trigger anxiety attacks, the person can continuously have faster heartbeats which cause him or her to breathe faster but shallower.

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