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Opioid addiction is a growing crisis in the United States, affecting millions of people every day. While doctors are encouraging patients to look for other methods of pain relief, opioid drugs are still prescribed on a limited basis. This means there’s still the risk of addiction, but this guide can help you identify those with the greatest risks.


What are the Risk Factors for Opioid Addiction?

People in certain situations are more likely than others to begin using opioid painkillers and to develop addiction problems. This includes younger adults in their 20s, particularly when they live at or below the poverty level or are unemployed. Past problems, such as legal troubles, relationship problems, or an unstable employment history, also contribute to the likelihood of addiction. In these situations, the individual is more likely to turn to an illegal form of the drug, primarily heroin, rather than misusing prescription medications. 


When Does Legitimate Use Turn to Addiction?

It’s more common for people with chronic pain or pain from physical injuries to begin using opioid painkillers for legitimate reasons. However, this type of drug is extremely addictive, and it won’t take long for the individual to feel stronger cravings more frequently,. This leads to them taking more doses than needed for the pain. When they run out of the drug, they will look for other ways to obtain more prescriptions, including seeing multiple doctors or buying unused prescriptions from others. Ultimately, they will have to turn to street grade heroin to feed their addiction.


What are the Signs of Opioid Addiction?

There are several behavioral and physical changes an individual goes through as they become addicted. If your loved one exhibits multiple signs of addiction, or they show these signs to a severe or frequent degree, they may be struggling with opioid addiction. 

  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Inhibited sex drive
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Financial problems that may lead to theft
  • Antisocial behavior

If you do suspect a loved one has an addiction to opioid-based drugs, they may not be able to quit on their own. You may need to convince them to enter a detox program and follow that up with a drug rehab program. This type of professional help is the only way most addicts can safely stop using and begin living a clean and healthier lifestyle.