How to Spot Signs of Opioid Addiction

Doctors use an 11-point checklist to help determine if a person’s opioid use signals a deeper problem. Here’s what they look for.

It isn’t always easy to tell if a person has an addiction to opioids.

But any strange habits or suspicions should be taken seriously, says Jonathan D. Morrow, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.

“If you’re using more and more of a drug, yet your daily functioning is getting worse instead of better, that’s a sign of addiction,” Morrow says. “If you’re using for a longer time than prescribed, that’s a warning sign. If you’re using it for reasons other than prescribed — for example, because you’re depressed or anxious or bored, that puts you at really high risk.”

Whether an opioid was obtained legally or not, taking it isn’t supposed to be satisfying.

“If you use opioids for the intended purpose, you ideally should get no high,” Morrow says. “You get lots of side effects such as nausea and constipation. It’s really not pleasant.

“It’s once you go beyond the amount you need for pain control that you start getting a high.”

Opioids cause the brain to release dopamine, which triggers a desire to repeat the drug-taking experience. Taken for too long or in high amounts, they can be highly addictive.

That’s why knowing when to help a person seek treatment for opioid misuse (and find alternative pain management methods) is important.

The most current criteria for diagnosing substance use disorder — 11 signs in all — was updated in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (or DSM-5).

According to the DSM-5, a person must have experienced at least two of the 11 symptoms within the past year.

Morrow spoke about the checklist and how it is applied.

Signs of opioid abuse

Taking a substance in larger or longer amounts than intended: Prescription painkillers are meant to be a short-term fix; extended use can signal trouble. “Typically, people don’t need opioids for more than three days,” Morrow says. Only in rare cases should use exceed a week, he adds.

Unsuccessful efforts to curb or control substance use: Even if a person wants to quit, this can be harder for some individuals. That’s because genetic, environmental and psychological factors put some opioid users at an elevated risk for addiction.

For more information and source: https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/how-to-spot-signs-of-opioid-addiction

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