10 Telltale Signs of Narcotic Drug Abuse

Narcotics, commonly known as opiate-based drugs, have come a long way in terms of their pain-relieving effects. With so many new pain relievers entering the market every year, the potential for narcotic drug abuse has also grown by leaps and bounds.

Opiate compounds are modeled after natural, pain-relieving alkaloid materials found in nature. Most all narcotic opiates have a chemical composition that’s highly compatible with the brain’s own chemical system.

The brain also manufacturers opiate-like chemicals for use within the body’s own pain management system. For these reasons, using narcotics for longer than three to four months at a time makes users especially susceptible to narcotic drug abuse practices, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine.

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These similarities account for why narcotic drug abuse is so prevalent. If you suspect you or someone you know may be abusing drugs, here are 10 telltale signs of narcotic drug abuse to consider.

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1. Narcotic Side Effects

Along with their pain-relieving effects, narcotics produce certain  side effects that only work to increase their potential for abuse. These effects produce feelings of complete calm and euphoria that become the driving force behind drug abuse practices.

In effect, narcotics trigger the release of large amounts of endorphins in the brain, the body’s own “feel good” chemicals. Even in cases where a person takes opiates for medicinal purposes, these effects can still predispose him or her to narcotic drug abuse.

2. Muddled Thinking Processes

Narcotic Drug Abuse

Sedation, psychological distress and social withdrawal are signs of drug abuse.

Normal brain function relies on a delicate chemical balance to sustain the body’s processes on an ongoing basis. According to the Institute for Substance Abuse Treatment Evaluation, the effects from a single dose of narcotics will offset this balance to a certain degree.

Opiates effects work to slow chemical processes throughout the brain and body. Not surprisingly, the cognitive centers of the brain feel the effects of narcotic drug abuse firsthand. Over time, these effects leave a person unable to concentrate on daily tasks. Confusion and periodic disorientation may also develop.

3. Increased Tolerance Levels

The release of endorphin chemicals brought on by opiates places a strain on the brain cells that secrete these chemicals. With narcotic drug abuse, brain cells structures start to deteriorate over time, becoming less sensitive to narcotic drug effects.

This loss of sensitivity essentially weakens the drug’s overall effects. Someone who’s abusing narcotics will likely increase the drug dosage in order to experience the full effects of the drug. As brain cell structures continue to deteriorate, users will have to keep increasing dosage amounts to override the brain’s increasing tolerance levels.

4. Sedation

After so many weeks or months of narcotic drug abuse, opiate effects produce an ongoing stream of endorphin chemicals throughout the body. Under these conditions, a person starts to exhibit signs of sedation as a result of the drug’s slowing effects.

Before long, these sedative effects reach a point where a person can experience brief lapses in consciousness at any given time, also known as “nodding out.” This sign in particular may indicate the user is at risk of overdosing should he or she continue to engage in abuse practices.

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5. Disregard for Negative Consequences

The net result from narcotic drug abuse creates an ever-worsening state of chemical imbalance in the brain. In effect, these imbalances “rewire” the brain and alter its overall physical structure.

During the course of narcotic drug abuse, a person’s ability to make sound decisions sees continual decline. As a result, negative consequences caused by ongoing drug use go unnoticed by the user.

This disregard stems from a growing physical dependency on narcotic effects. Physical dependency takes hold as brain cell structures continue to deteriorate, making them increasingly dependent on the drug’s effects to function normally.

6. Impaired Central Nervous System Functions

The endorphin level increases brought on by narcotic drug abuse inevitably start to interfere with the body’s central nervous system (CNS) functions. Since narcotics have an overall slowing effect on bodily processes, elevated levels of endorphins slow central nervous system functions each time a person ingests the drug.

Over time, narcotics have a cumulative effect on CNS functions and soon start to affect major systems throughout the body. Systems most affected by narcotic drug abuse include:

  • Digestive processes
  • Body temperature regulation
  • Respiratory functions
  • Heart functions

Signs of impaired CNS functions typically take the form of:

  • Constipation
  • Drastic changes in body temperature
  • Slowed heart rates
  • Slowed breathing rates

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7. Psychological Dysfunction

Much like the decline in cognitive function that results from narcotic drug abuse, a person’s psychological make-up will start to show signs of impairment. Psychological functions encompass both the cognitive and emotion-based centers of the brain.

With continued drug use, symptoms of depression and/or anxiety become increasingly apparent. Before long, these symptoms will turn into full-blown psychological disorders.

Signs to watch out for include:

  • Bouts of sadness, hopelessness, desperation
  • Pervasive feelings of anxiety
  • Panic episodes
  • Loss of energy
  • Problems sleeping
  • Easily startled

8. Persistent Drug Cravings

The “high” effects associated with narcotic drug abuse have a psychological impact on a person in terms of how he or she perceives the benefits of the drug. People who use drugs on the job or within social situations soon come to associate their ability to handle these encounters with the effects of the drug.

These effects cause users to crave the drug, and with ongoing drug use, cravings grow more intense over time.

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47,300* People Addicted
23,100* Getting Help
8,209* Deaths
*Statistic from 2015

9. Refusing to Acknowledge the Problem

The longer a person engages in narcotic drug abuse, the more important drug use becomes in his or her life. After a certain point, a person’s inability to acknowledge the negative consequences brought on by drug use turns into outright denial that a problem exists. This denial will persist in the face of declining physical and mental health regardless of what friends and family have to say.

10. Addiction

More oftentimes than not, narcotic drug abuse practices are the first stage of a growing addiction problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, once a person crosses over from physical dependency to psychological dependency, addiction has taken hold.

Signs of addiction include:

  • Neglecting family obligations
  • Neglecting work responsibilities
  • Money problems
  • Problems with law
  • Relationship problems

In the absence of needed treatment help, narcotic drug abuse will slowly destroy a person’s life.

the Take-Away

Narcotics are intoxicating drugs that are often addictive and dangerous. It’s important to be aware of the signs of their abuse so that you can ensure your loved ones are safe.