Opiates Painkillers: The Basics
Opioid-based drugs, or opiates, are derived from morphine or are synthetically created to mimic its properties. Heroin has no medicinal purposes and opiate painkillers are available only by prescription. If you or anyone in your home is prescribed opiate medication, then your loved one has access to these drugs. They are a very commonly prescribed medication and are in the medicine cabinets of many homes.

Prescribed to ease chronic or acute pain, opiates are highly effective, but it is easy to build a tolerance to them, requiring more and more of the drug to achieve the original high it provides. Most opiate users swallow the pills, but they can abuse them by first crushing them before swallowing or snorting the drug, a practice which intensifies their effect. When under the influence, your loved one may seem overly relaxed and even sleepy or “out of it.” When addicted, they may become extremely irritable, anxious, and unusually aggressive when they are without their pills.

Common Opiate Painkillers
There are a number of commonly prescribed opiate medications that you can look out for. If you find pills among your family member’s possessions and are unsure of their origin, you should know the names of certain opioid-based drugs that are dangerous and addictive. The following is a partial list of mostly generic versions that may have different brand names:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone

The Dangers of Opiate Use and Abuse
Aside from the obvious dangers of opiate addiction and overdose, there are a number of negative physical effects related to opiate use and abuse. The ability to function is inhibited by the use of painkillers, for example, as are control of motor skills and good judgment. Opiates cause respiratory depression and it is easy to take too many, experience respiratory failure and slip into a coma that can ultimately turn fatal. Mixing opiate drugs with alcohol or other depressants increases the chance of both addiction and death.

Opiate abuse: What can families do?
It’s every family’s nightmare facing Opiate abuse. Loved ones do not want to believe that their husband or wife is going to abuse drugs or is having a problem with Opiate abuse. Opiate addiction is another family’s problem. This is not true. Drugs are everywhere, so mothers, fathers, husbands and wives need to be savvy and look for the warning signs. Don’t assume that the problem is going to pass you by because you’re the “right kind of family.” Opiate addiction is something that can affect any member of a family and must be addressed.

Spotting Addiction
Addiction to Opiates can result from the abuse of legitimate prescriptions, the illegal purchase of the medication, sharing prescriptions with acquaintances or purposefully combining them with other medication or alcohol.

  • Slurred or slow speech
  • Tiny pupils
  • Drooping eyelids
  • Flushing of the face or neck
  • Slow gait
  • Extreme drowsiness

If you’ve noticed these symptoms, it’s important to have a frank and honest discussion about drug use. These discussions can be difficult to begin, but they are incredibly important for your loved one’s overall health. In this talk, family members should strive to be specific, pointing out the signs of drug use that they have noticed and explaining why these symptoms are causes for concern. Your family member may not be aware that what started as a prescribed medical treatment has developed into an opiate addiction.

Health: As a person slips into Opiate abuse a variety of physical signs point to substance abuse.
Are they listless all of the time?
Weight loss and weight gain are signs.
Are there changes in eating habits?
Has the life gone out of their eyes, or is there a major change?

Appearance: Have they lost interest in how they look? Has there been an attitude shift?

Have grooming habits changed?

Attitude and Behavior:
Have they become secretive and guarded? Have there been money shortages or refusing to disclose spending habits?

Has money or personal property gone missing to buy drugs?

The good news is that opiate addiction in adults can be treated successfully. Focusing on the underlying issues, finding pain management alternatives and helping your loved one to focus on the changes they can make in their behavior can lead to success.


Call today to speak to an addiction specialist (561) 859-0930