Over the past two decades, the opioid epidemic has taken a huge toll on Colorado families. The rate of heroin overdose deaths in the state more than quadrupled between 2010 and 2016. Unfortunately, a deadly addiction often begins with misusing prescription opioids.
Young adults may be especially at risk. From sports injuries that may require extended reliance on pain relief to social access to prescription drugs, youths often assume these medications are relatively safe and underestimate the risk of addiction.
What are the signs of addiction?
It may take as little as two weeks to develop a chemical dependency on opioids. The longer an individual uses the drug, the more likely he or she is to develop opioid use disorder, a medical condition that can produce irresistible cravings and have a profound effect on behavior. Potential signs of addiction include:
- Excessive drowsiness or unusual sleeping habits
- Irritability, sadness, anxiety and other mood changes
- Isolation from family and friends
- Neglecting personal hygiene
- Missing work, school or important appointments
- Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
What is the connection between prescription opioids and heroin?
Once a young adult has developed an addiction to prescription opioids, he or she may need to use more and more of the drug just to feel normal.
The cost of purchasing prescription medications on the street often leads addicted individuals to turn to heroin as a cheaper and stronger, but even more deadly alternative. The Colorado Health Institute reports that about 80% of heroin users started using opioids with prescription pain relievers.