What are opioids?
Derived mostly from poppy seeds, opioids are drugs with powerful effects. They fall into two broad categories: illegal street drugs such as heroin, and prescription pain medication such as morphine and Percocet.
Opioid addiction happens when one becomes physically or psychologically dependent on the drug. Individuals can become dependent even through supervised legal use of their medication. For example, patients with chronic illnesses sometimes experience withdrawal when they stop using the drugs, even though they do not have a psychological dependence.
Opioid addiction can be extremely dangerous: non-medical users take higher than recommended doses, and they have a tendency to use the drugs in conjunction with other substances, like alcohol or other drugs. It is easy to accidentally overdose on opioids, and overdoses can be fatal.
Street drugs like heroin are very harmful as well: they are often mixed with other substances that can poison the human body. Fatal overdoses can happen even when the drug is taken in small amounts.
How do I know if I or a loved one has an opioid addiction?
Different drugs have different effects, and the signs and symptoms vary from one person to the next. Some signs to look out for include the following:
- Depression and mood swings
- Physical symptoms, including a rapid drop in blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems and shortness of breath
- Disorientation and confusion
- Frequent visits to the doctor to refill pain medication prescriptions
- Visits to two or more doctors for the purposes of getting multiple prescriptions
- Reduction of personal and professional responsibilities
- Frequent signs of opioid intoxication, like dilated pupils and a tendency to “nod off” at random times
- Anxiety when the individual does not have access to drugs
- Displays of irrational behaviour
- Investment of large amounts of time, money and energy to obtain and use the drugs
- Development of withdrawal symptoms – sweating, muscle aches and insomnia – when the individual goes for a long time without the drugs.
Opioid addiction treatment
Opioid addiction is very difficult to overcome without support, and for users experiencing severe withdrawal, it can be dangerous if there is not proper medical supervision. At Addiction Rehab Toronto, we ensure that individuals are given proper care and support during the withdrawal phase. In our positive, non-judgmental environment, clients are guided through all stages of their recovery so that they can go on to lead positive, productive lives.
For more information about opioid addiction treatment in Toronto, please visit our opioid addiction treatment page.