Opioid Abuse Awareness: What It Means to You

by Andrew Laker | Apr 05, 2018

Whom It Affects

Not everyone who uses opioid pain pills becomes addicted. Each person’s body and brain are different. The likelihood of becoming addicted goes up with longer use, whereas, for some people, physical dependence can begin within the first week of routine use.

Our specially trained healthcare team provides total care for patients who need close observation and treatment, but we rely on your help and support to deliver the best possible care. We welcome your questions and concerns.

Signs of Abuse

  • Very small pinpoint pupils and red or glazed eyes
  • Diminished personal appearance and hygiene
  • Loss of interest in their favorite things
  • Changes in eating habits (more or less)
  • More problems at work or school
  • Changing their friends frequently
  • Sudden unexplained mood changes
  • Becoming more secretive
  • Sleeping at strange hours

These are all signs that may indicate substance use disorder. In addition, other signs to look for include:

  • Items of value or drugs from the home medicine cabinet disappear
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia such as lighters, burnt spoons or foil, syringes, or cotton

What You Need to Know

The Power of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that involves intense cravings, loss of control over using that substance, and continued use of the substance despite the many harmful consequences. Some people’s genetics make it easier for them to become addicted.

  • 80% of heroin users started out on prescription opioids prior to turning to heroin.
  • 12% of first-time pain-pill users become addicted the first time they take an opioid pain medication.

How Addiction Begins

Besides relieving pain, opioids excite the parts of the brain that make you feel good. Our brain wants us to repeat things that we need or enjoy. The longer you use these drugs of abuse, your brain and body get used to having them and need increasing amounts to get the same response. Eventually your brain and body must have the drug to just feel normal, and you can feel physically sick without the drug.

What if My Doctor Prescribes an Opioid Medication for Me?

Opioids are powerful medications that are prescribed for many types of pain or medical reasons. Some patients need opioids to control their pain enough to do their normal daily tasks. Opioids should be used as a secondary option to controlling pain. Pain is the body’s mechanism of reminding you that you are injured or sick. Talk to your doctor about your pain goal and what to expect with your medical condition.

Common prescription opioids include: oxycodone, Percocet®, OxyContin®, hydrocodone, Lortab®, Norco®, morphine, MS Contin®, codeine, Dilaudid®, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. Other opioids include: heroin, and carfentanil.

Before Beginning Prescription Opioid Pain Medications

Ask your doctor:

  • What other medications or treatments can be used to control pain?
  • How can I decrease the dose of opioid medication when my body begins to heal and my pain decreases?
  • How long will I be taking opioid pain medications? Set a date to be off of your opioid medications.

Safe Disposal of Unused Medications

Leaving unused opioid pain pills in your medicine cabinet for future use can increase chances for them being stolen and abused. Safe-disposal medication drop boxes are located at:

  • Columbus Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department
    2400 East 17th Street, Columbus, Indiana
  • Walgreens Pharmacy (inside by the pharmacy counter)
    2400 Beam Road, Columbus, Indiana

2017 Bartholomew County Statistics

  • 299 patients treated for drug overdose by Columbus Regional Hospital’s Emergency Department
  • 30 overdose deaths, of which 26 were related to opioid abuse or misuse
  • 414 children affected by substance use disorders in Bartholomew County - a number that has doubled in the past 5 years

Overdose deaths in Bartholomew County chart

Preventing Overdose Deaths

  • Naloxone (Narcan®, Evzio®) is an antidote to treat opioid overdose and can be obtained without a prescription. Facts about this drug:
  • Call 911 immediately if given, as the effects of naloxone wear off faster than the drugs causing the overdose.
  • Many people require more than one dose of naloxone.

Contact Information

Indiana Addiction Hotline
A free confidential service is available 365 days/year for individuals and family members seeking addiction treatment services in Indiana. Call 1-800-662-HELP(4357) or visit www.in.gov/fssa/dmha/.

Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress in Bartholomew County
For local resources, including local stories of those with substance use disorder, visit www.asapbc.org.

National Institute on Drug Abuse To learn more about substance use disorder, visit
www.easyread.drugabuse.gov.

Leave a comment