By now you probably have heard that the opioid epidemic is categorized as a public health emergency in the United States. The overdose deaths are reaching epidemic proportions and the government has taken notice. It is estimated that thousands of people die from these dangerous drugs every year and many of the deaths start with an opioid addiction. If you do not know, then you probably should. With so many people addicted to opioid drugs, there is an excellent chance that you know someone who is using, abusing, or is addicted to one of them.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are highly addictive painkillers that are normally prescribed for moderate to severe pain. This could mean short term pain such as a surgery or break and it could mean chronic pain such as:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Chronic joint pain
  • Arthritis pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Endometriosis
  • Reoccurring or inoperable hernias
  • Pain due to cancer

It is perfectly normal for someone to be taking opioid drugs when suffering from one of these conditions. Unfortunately, it is also where most of the trouble with prescription painkiller addiction starts.

What are the Signs of Opioid Addiction?

The signs of opioid addiction vary only slightly from person to person. If you are addicted, it can be very difficult to tell the difference between being dependent on the drug and being addicted. When you are dependent on the drug, you need it to dull the pain enough to so that you can function normally.

When you are addicted to the drug, you are using the drug for purposes other than what it was intended for or using large amounts of the drug. The general signs of opioid addiction are:

  • Taking increasing amounts
  • Going into withdrawal when you do not have the drug
  • Worrying about your supply when you are running low
  • Wanting to feel high or euphoric
  • Taking risks to get or use the drug
  • Doctor shopping or going to more than one doctor for the same prescription
  • Having multiple prescriptions

These are just general signs. There is a good chance if you are an addict you will feel physical and emotional signs as well.

Why are Opioid Drugs so Dangerous?

Opioid drugs are dangerous because the addiction is insidious. You may start taking the drug because you have a condition that requires it. As the drug changes your brain chemistry, you will find that you need more and more of it to achieve the same result. There is a very fine line between taking just enough of the drug and taking too much.

Opioids are very easy to overdose for a few different reasons. As a respiratory depressant, it is easy to find yourself in trouble if you take things like cough syrup, muscle relaxants, or drink alcohol while you are on it.

Fortunately, there is treatment available for those who need it. It is extremely important to seek help before you reach the point where you could overdose. Opioid overdose happens quickly and can very easily kill you.