There are some common behavioral warning signs that indicate a narcotics abuse problem that you should become aware of.
Recognizing a Substance Use Disorder in a Loved One on Narcotics
If your loved one has been taking an opioid medication, it is important to be aware of the issues sometimes associated with these drugs. If you can rule out any possible problems, good, but unfortunately, it is all too common for those taking narcotics medically to develop substance use disorders over time. Seek help now if you believe your loved one is abusing their medication by calling (800) 407-7195.
How Do I Know My Loved One is Abusing Their Medication?
It is likely that you will not be able to know for certain unless you catch them in the act of abusing the drug or they tell you. Regrettably, a person’s substance abuse is likely to make them less forthcoming, and they will probably try to hide their abuse from you. Therefore, it is important to be able to recognize the signs of substance use disorders and especially those associated with narcotic abuse.
Signs of Narcotic Abuse Disorders
A person is likely to experience a number of side effects while on a narcotic-based medication. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse states, “Opioids can… produce drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea, [and] constipation,” but someone who is abusing their medication is likely to experience more severe versions of these symptoms. And if you have told them that they should seek help for these issues, they likely will not want to.
Other signs that a person is abusing their narcotic medication and beginning to develop a substance use disorder include:
- Signs of intoxication like confusion, euphoria, and drowsiness.
- Anyone is likely to be drowsy and/or confused while on a narcotic medication, but these effects being constant and extreme can be a tip-off that your loved one is abusing their medication rather than taking it in the approved doses.
- Mood swings
- If your loved one used to be very reliable and no longer is, it is important to consider that they may be abusing their medication. According to the National Library of Medicine, a strong sign of a substance abuse disorder is a sudden lack of responsibility and missing work, school, or other appointments as a result of high-level drug abuse.
- Restlessness and/or insomnia
- Neglecting to take care of themselves
- Not eating and not attending to one’s personal hygiene are also signs of a substance use disorder.
- Secretive behavior
- If your loved one never takes their medication in front of you, goes places without telling you, or starts to participate in other secretive behavior, it is likely they are misusing their medication.
Looking for Evidence
If you still aren’t sure if your loved one is abusing their medication or not, try to find out where they are getting their drugs from. If they are only taking the narcotics prescribed by their doctor, there is a possibility they aren’t using, but many individuals participate in doctor-shopping (going to multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions), stealing prescription pads or forging prescriptions, or stealing medications from pharmacies or hospitals (Drug Enforcement Administration). In addition, if your loved one is getting narcotics through the Internet without a prescription, they are very likely abusing these drugs as well.
You can also look for certain types of drug paraphernalia contingent with narcotic abuse. Many people crush the pills in order to inject them, so finding needles, empty pill bottles, or tubing to tie one’s arm are all signs of abuse.
It can also help to talk to your loved one, if you feel safe to do so. If you tell them you are concerned that they may be in need of help, watch their reaction. If they become hostile or severely angry, there is a strong possibility that they are using their medication dangerously.
If you do not feel safe to talk to your loved one, or if you already have done so, it can help immensely to talk to a doctor about your fears and to find out once and for all if there is a possibility that your loved one has a problem.
Seek Treatment for Your Loved One Today
Substance use disorders require professional treatment, and those who abuse their narcotic medications need help.