How to Spot the Warning Signs of Substance Abuse

The opioid crisis in the United States has made headlines as more people succumb to opioid addiction, especially at the hands of prescription painkillers. Of the almost 20.5 million people who struggle with a substance use disorder, nearly two million of them abuse pain relievers.

Here at Comprehensive Pain Management, our team of pain management specialists, lead by Drs. Do Chan and Boris Shwartzman, works with our patients to ensure that they understand the risks that come with using prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine. While these drugs are able to help people overcome chronic and debilitating pain, when they’re misused they can create a dark path to addiction.

To help educate you on opioid use, we’ve pulled together the most common signs that a substance use disorder may have already developed, or is developing.

By the label

One of the first signs of painkiller misuse is not following the recommended dosages as prescribed by us. If, for example, you’ve been instructed to take one pill every four hours, or as needed, but you begin to take two pills in shorter time frames, this is a slippery slope to addiction.

Opioids interfere with receptors in your brain, which is what helps with your pain. But if these receptors are given too much, they begin to rewire themselves to receive more, which creates cravings. And every time you respond to that craving, you create a reward cycle that can quickly hijack your brain.

Behavioral cues

An opioid substance use disorder is primarily a disease of the brain, which affects your behavior. Some of the most common behavioral red flags when it comes to addiction include:

Everyone is different, but these represent the most common clues that a substance use problem may be developing.

Physical clues

There are many facets to a substance use disorder, and dependence, both mental and physical, is one of them. One of the biggest warning signs that you may have a problem is that you experience withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking, when you don’t have access to your drug of choice. There are plenty of other physical withdrawal symptoms that include:

The mental side effects of stopping drug use are just as serious, because uncontrollable cravings initiated by your brain take over your behaviors. You may also experience extreme anxiety or moodiness.

More often than not, it’s these hurdles that prevent people from breaking free of addiction, which is where we can help.

Substance abuse help

As we mentioned, as pain management specialists, we know the advantages and pitfalls of opioid-based medications. If you’re at all worried about taking opioids (or you’re worried for a loved one), we provide a medication management program that includes routine drug testing and comprehensive behavioral assessment, if needed.

If an addiction has taken hold, we offer Suboxone® to help ease you through withdrawal and prevent relapse. Suboxone is extremely effective when combined with a complete treatment program that includes counseling, behavioral therapy, and support groups.

If you have any questions at all about substance use disorders, please call one of our four locations in Attleboro or Franklin, Massachusetts, or South Kingstown or Warwick, Rhode Island. Or you can click the button on our contact page.

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