Resources & Education

October 16th, 2014

Is Someone You Love Abusing Painkillers? Here’s How to Help

help for addictsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, painkiller overdoses now account for more than twice the deaths as cocaine and five times as many as heroin—partially because they’re thought to be safer than street drugs and partially because they’re so popular with teenagers.

Is someone you love abusing or addicted to painkillers?  How can you tell?

You may see any or all of the following symptoms:

Sleepiness/Lack of Energy

We’re all tired sometimes, but someone who takes opioids will often exhibit drooping eyes or look about to nod off at random times throughout the day, when the drugs are peaking. In the long run, they may spend less time with friends and family and consistently skip out on activities because they’re “too tired.”

A Drop off In Performance

Not only can the drugs themselves diminish an addict’s attention and concentration, but the constant focus on taking the drug to maintain a high and avoid withdrawal means the addict usually has difficulty concentrating. You may see red flags like that person frequently missing work or school, leaving work during the day, or exhibiting a significant drop in productivity or performance.

Lack of Interest in Activities and Relationships

Between being high, the sleepiness and the inability to focus, addicts often find it difficult to maintain normal friendships and healthy lifestyle habits like sports and hobbies. They may isolate themselves or choose to spend more time with others who are also abusing drugs.

Physical Changes

When someone is high on opioids, the most common physical signs include constricted pupils, flushing on the face and neck, head nodding and slurred speech. Withdrawal from Rx pain pills can cause frequent yawning, dilated pupils, nausea and vomiting, and joint pain.

How Can You Help?

If you determine that your spouse, partner, child or friend has a prescription drug addiction, you can help by:

  • Intervening Immediately. Don’t wait for the person to hit rock bottom or experience a drastic consequence.
  • Playing An Active Role. As a family member or close friend, you have a powerful voice in persuading an addict to seek treatment. If you say or do nothing, you’ll enable the continuation of the addiction.
  • Showing Compassion. People suffering from opioid dependence may fear recovery. They might dread suffering from cravings or withdrawal, the stigma associated with addiction or the embarrassment of asking for help.
  • Seeking Professional Help. Don’t encourage the addict to go cold turkey or fight the addiction on his or her own. It’s important for a drug abuser to get professional assistance and for you to get an education in addiction and your role in recovery.

There are several treatments available for people addicted to opioids, and here in Western New York there is a large support community. Contact Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800 to find out more about family and adolescent treatment, residential and inpatient rehabilitation, answers to FAQs about drug and alcohol withdrawal and other support services. We are here to help you or a loved one.

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