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How To Tell If A Loved One Is Abusing Opioids

Opioid medication is an important pain-relieving drug for many people around the world and an absolute necessity to living a normal life for those suffering with chronic pain. However, that does come with its problems too.

While chronic pain is something that needs to be treated daily, opioid addiction is a chronic disease and should be treated as such.

Of course, if it’s yourself that is taking opioids to manage chronic pain, you may well know when you’ve crossed the line into addiction to the pain relief medication. However, if it is a loved one who is taking opioids, then it can be very difficult to know whether chronic pain is being managed or opioids are being abused.

If you have a sense that something isn’t quite right with how a loved one is using their medication then it could be time to step in. While anyone can become addicted to opioids, you’d typically find that there are certain factors that can trigger opioid addiction more, these being, although not exclusive to:

  • A younger person
  • Living in a stressful circumstance
  • Has a family history of substance abuse
  • Living in a high risk environment
  • Suffering with depression or anxiety

Of course, there may be many more reasons too and it’s perhaps in the changes in their behaviour that may allow you to recognise their drug addiction. At that point it may be time to hold an intervention.

Among the key tell-tale signs include:

Taking opioids “just in case”

You’ll begin to notice loved ones taking their medication more on a whim, feeling “something is coming on” or they’ll take the medication “just in case”. This is a sure sign of misuse of treatment and can be a real red flag of addiction rather than truly taking opioids “just in case”.

Opioid medication should only be taken when your loved one is in pain, and if they begin to stray away from that, then there’s an addiction arising.

Mood Swings

As with any addiction, whether it be alcohol, gambling or recreational drugs, mood swings are a major sign of addiction, particularly if you do start to see your loved one become hostile when not on the medication or in searching for it.

You’ll also see a more elated side to your loved one when on the medication - not exactly a sign of someone in pain.


Priorities shift when addiction takes over and you’ll begin to find yourself further and further down the pecking order. There are many signs of selfishness within a relationship and it can often be triggered and enhanced by addiction as thoughts turn to the next hit rather than looking after a partner or treating a loved one.

Your Own Behaviour

You may also begin to see your own behaviour change as a result in a shift of theirs. You’ll find yourself suffering more with worry and anxiety as the fear starts to creep in around their health and behaviour.

Equally, you may find yourself lying or making excuses for their behaviour. That selfishness from your loved one can have a knock on effect for others, and you may be the person that has to pick up the pieces.

Ultimately, it will lead to you beginning to withdraw from your loved one and distance yourself from them to protect yourself. Which you may need to do in order to stay safe. However, it will have a lasting impact that can be difficult to recover from.

Recovery is key, and it’s their recovery which is necessary. If any of the above traits are beginning to appear, it may be time to confront them over their addiction and try and set them on a path for a healthier and happier life.

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