The National Vital Statistics System indicates that 115 Americans die from drug toxicity each day. However, it is often the case that overdose deaths come as a surprise to loved ones, more times than you might think. Those who find themselves battling substance use disorder learn fairly quickly that their behaviors must be hidden if they are going to feed the fire. Individuals figure out ways to keep their condition under wraps, and they go to great lengths to achieve such ends.
Twenty years following the onset of the American opioid addiction epidemic, most people (including doctors) struggle to spot the signs of use disorder. Behaviors exhibited by men and women that are glaring red flags to addiction experts, regularly go unnoticed by friends and family members. It is paramount that we educate average citizens about the warning signs that someone they love may be in the grips of a progressive mental health condition.
Survivors of overdose victims are prone to have many questions, particularly for themselves; they might ask, ‘how did my family member spiral out of control right under my nose? Moreover, could I have done more to intervene?’ Such lines of questioning do little good for their loved one, but the answers they come up with may help another family avoid similar outcomes. Perhaps, in death, some lives can be saved.
Spotting the Signs of Addiction
There are myriad signs that indicate substance abuse is occurring or that substance use disorder is affecting someone. Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, the chief medical officer at American Addiction Centers, lays out some of the more common indicators for Healthline. Signs and symptoms of opioid misuse include:
- Continued use of the substance even when there are negative repercussions.
- Noticeable drowsiness or sedation.
- Slowed breathing and constricted pupils.
- Nodding off intermittently or losing consciousness.
- Mood swings and defensiveness if you approach them about your concerns.
- Extra pill bottles in the trash.
- Drug paraphernalia in or around the user’s bedroom or living space; things such as vials, needles, rubber tubing, and spoons that are bent or burned on the bottom, could indicate heroin misuse.
- Withdrawal symptoms that can mimic flu symptoms.
Dr. Weinstein says opioid addiction “causes people to behave in ways that they would never behave under normal circumstances, and sometimes this behavior can be destructive.”
“This is not who they are, these are symptoms of the disease,” adds Weinstein. “Addiction is not a moral failing by any stretch of the imagination. It is a disease that must be managed, just like hypertension or diabetes.”
Talking To Your Loved One
While it goes without saying, discussing addiction with a friend or family member is never easy or straightforward, such conversations must occur, nonetheless. Those in the grips of addiction can convince others that what they see is an exaggeration; convincing others that a problem is under control might be a specialty of those living with the disease. It is for those reasons above that professional guidance is strongly recommended.
If you are noticing alarming signs relating to a loved one’s use of mind-altering substances, please contact Hemet Valley Recovery Center and Sage Retreat. Our team can assist you in helping someone you care about take the first step toward addiction recovery.
HVRC would like to wish the brave men and women who have served in the armed forces a Happy Veterans Day! We are grateful for your service.