If you live in Oregon, you should know that opiate addiction runs rampant across the state. In fact, Oregon is considered to have the sixth largest drug problem out of all U.S. states, and the state has an unusually high number of teenage drug users. Many of those drug users are addicted to opiates.
Read on to learn more facts about the Oregon opiate epidemic and signs your loved one is addicted to opiates.
The Oregon Opiate Epidemic
Opiate overdose is the number one cause of death due to injury in the state of Oregon. In 2105, there were 263 deaths due to opiate overdoses in the state. While opiate addiction affects people of all ages, Oregon leads the nation in the number of seniors hospitalized for opiate overdoses and other health consequences of opiate abuse.
While many people in the state are addicted to opiate pills obtained by prescription or on the black market, many are addicted to heroin. In fact, as prescription opiate use in the state has declined slightly in recent years, heroin addiction has risen.
Many people who abuse opiates begin taking black market prescription opiates, then turn to heroin due to its lower cost. Others turn to heroin after their physicians no longer agree to prescribe them opiates.
Signs of Opiate Addiction
Due to the epidemic in the state, you should know the signs of opiate addiction so you can help a loved one seek help if you notice them displaying the signs of addiction.
A person’s pupils should naturally constrict, or become smaller, when exposed to bright light and enlarge when in dark rooms. If you notice that your loved one’s pupils often appear small, no matter what lighting conditions they are in, then that is a sign the individual may be abusing opiates.
However, be aware that there are medical causes of constricted pupils, such as brain hemorrhage and exposure to some toxic chemicals.
Periodic Stomach Flu Symptoms
If you are like most people, you are likely familiar with the most common signs of the stomach flu — diarrhea and general stomach upset, lack of appetite, fatigue, and vomiting. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are similar to these.
If you notice that a loved one seems to display or complain of these symptoms periodically, even when the stomach flu is not in season, then that is a sign that they could have an opiate addiction.
While everyone has days when they are feeling a little more up or down, people who suffer from opiate addictions often display dramatic mood swings on a regular basis. Their moods fluctuate depending on whether they currently have opiates in their system or not.
While dramatic mood swings can also be a sign of a mental health problem, they can also be a sign of opiate addiction, especially when you notice other signs of addiction.
An Unexplained Need for Extra Money
While many people experience occasional financial problems from time to time that can cause them to ask friends and family members to lend them money, people who are addicted to opiates often ask friends and family for cash on a regular basis.
People dealing with addictions may give vague responses when asked why they need the cash or have no physical evidence of the cash being spent on what they claimed it was needed for.
Extreme Weight Loss
Many people who abuse opiates lose drastic amounts of weight. Opiates cause appetite suppression and high doses can cause nausea that further reduces an opiate addict’s urge to eat. In addition, many people who suffer from opiate addiction neglect purchasing food in favor of spending the money they do have on their drug of choice.
If a loved one is abusing opiate pills by taking them orally, then the presence of many pill bottles in their bedroom or home may be the only physical evidence you find of their addiction. However, prescription opiate pills can also be injected into the bloodstream, and heroin is typically injected. People who inject drugs often have drug paraphernalia in their pockets, in their handbags, in their vehicles, or in their homes.
If a loved one is injecting opiates, you may find hypodermic needles and spoons with bent handles. If the spoons have brown residue on them, the spoons may have been used in the process of preparing drugs for injection.
If you determine that a loved one is abusing opiates, the best way to help them get clean is to recommend that they attend a drug treatment program at a treatment center with experience helping people with opiate addictions. Pacific Ridge can help your loved one gain independence from a drug habit that may be holding them back.