Prescription drug addiction is the leading cause of fatal overdoses in the world today. More and more people are becoming addicted to prescription painkillers, and they’re dying from it more than heroin and cocaine combined. Opiates are a strong narcotic medication designed to help people manage pain when they’ve been injured or suffer from a chronic illness. The problem is that opiates can become highly addictive, producing some terribly uncomfortable opiate withdrawal symptoms when the drug is withheld.

The Progression of a Prescription Opiate Addiction

If you asked most heroin addicts if they ever thought they’d end up where they are today, they’d most likely say no. Even though people abuse alcohol and marijuana on a regular basis, nobody ever thinks that they’ll try a drug as dangerous as heroin. It’s common knowledge that heroin can lead to fatal overdoses as well as diseases that are transmitted through needle sharing, but addiction progresses in profound ways.

Most of the people who became addicted to heroin were once prescription opiate addicts. Heroin is an opiate as well, but it’s a cheaper, stronger drug. The progression happens when an addict becomes physically dependent to their medication, and they’re running out of ways to feed their addiction. They may first begin abusing their medications by taking more pills than what’s prescribed, but this doesn’t last long.

Doctors and pharmacies are beginning to watch for potential signs of addiction more than ever, which makes it extremely difficult for an addict to obtain more medications. The addict may be able to find different doctors to refill their prescriptions, but eventually pharmacies will stop refilling them. This leads to the addict buying the medications illegally, which can be extremely expensive. Medications like OxyContin sell for upwards of $80 on the streets, but someone can buy heroin for a fraction of the price.

Once the addict is desperate enough and experiencing the opiate withdrawal symptoms, they’ll be much more likely to try heroin.

Noticing the Signs of Withdrawal

If you believe you or a loved one is becoming addicted to prescription opiates, there are signs of withdrawal that you can look out for. Withdrawal happens because your body is being starved of the dopamine that it is used to receiving from opiates. When you run out of drugs or have to use less than normal, your body doesn’t know how to react and struggles to maintain equilibrium. This causes your nervous system and neurotransmitters to misfire.

It’s important that you recognize these signs of withdrawal, because they are the biggest indication that you need to find help to treat your addiction. The common signs of opiate withdrawal can include anxiety, nausea, aches and pains in your joints, drowsiness and fatigue. Many addicts don’t realize that they’re experiencing withdrawal, but they know the symptoms go away when they continue to use.

When you continue to keep using, your body is becoming even more dependent, which will make it more difficult to stop. The best thing you can do is seek the help of an addiction specialist who can offer you guidance and recommend a treatment facility that specializes in opiate addiction.