Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a growing problem that impacts the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Repeat use of opioids, that have been prescribed or those that are found on the streets, can quickly lead to physical dependence and an insatiable desire to use more. If you or someone you love struggles with opiate addiction, call our admissions team at 833-397-3422 to find out about the opioid addiction treatment programs offered at our Florida drug rehab center. Treatment options are available.

Florida Opioid Addiction

The abuse of opioids is one of the largest epidemics to impact America leaving a lasting impact on society. The opioid crisis is equally unique and terrifying because it possesses the ability to target any age, demographic, or social class and efforts to curb the problem have been minimally effective. Opioid addiction has caused widespread havoc in the United States accounting for more than 750K overdose deaths since 1999.

The accessibility of opioids through written doctors’ notes and black market sales once made it easier than ever for substance users both new and old to obtain these drugs. Although recent changes have been made to prescribing in an attempt to curb the epidemic, the use of opioids proves to be an incredibly precarious trail. Up to 128 people per day die from opioid overdose and even with number of deaths increasing opioid abuse is still prevalent.

Most opioids are prescribed to individuals who are suffering from chronic pain, diagnosed with cancer, have undergone invasive surgeries or have severe injuries. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that individuals who have been prescribed opioids are more likely to develop a dependency and begin the use of heroin and other illegal opiates. Even with the known dangers of opioid use, it could almost be said that it is too easy to obtain a prescription. This can lead to many questions directed at the medical field.

  • Why are opioids addictive?
  • Are there safer alternatives than opioids?
  • Is there a guideline or system in place for prescribing opioids?
  • Are doctors keeping a close watch on the number of patient prescription refills?

Methods of Opioid Abuse

The word opioid might bring certain images or means of administration to mind, especially in regards to certain well-known opioids such as heroin. However, there are several ways to self-administer every class of opioid whether it might be natural, semi-synthetic, or fully synthetic.

Oral Consumption

This is the most traditional route of opioid abuse, and often the gateway to more intense forms of opiate administration for many users. Opioids such as Oxycodone and Morphine are dispensed via a doctors script obtained through a pharmacy or purchased off of the black market. Ingestion of opioids orally is the most traditional form of abuse.

The first means of administration of opioid abuse is oral. Opioids such as Morphine and Codeine are prescribed in tablet or capsule form and slowly absorb into the system. This form of consumption can produce results as quickly as 30 minutes to a period of a few hours depending on release time. In some cases, individuals who are suffering from substance abuse, grind or crush the opioid tablet and simply just eat it.

Nasal Ingestion

The second most popular type of opioid abuse, nasal ingestion can be practiced via smoking or snorting the opioid of choice. This is a common practice for opioids that are obtained on the black market such as heroin. The ingestion of opioids via the nasal cavity is preferred for quicker results than oral ingestion and produces a more intense high.


The process of intravenous injection is normal practice with individuals who frequently abuse heroin. Heroin is crushed into a fine powder form, disintegrated into liquid form and injected into the veins of the arms, legs, and feet.

Injecting opioids is another common practice for regular substance abuse users. The opioid of choice is usually injected into an individual’s arms, legs, feet, or other areas that are more discreet. The opioid is ground up into a fine powder and liquified and injected intravenously for the quickest high possible. Injecting opiates is not only an incredibly dangerous practice that puts one at risk of overdosing whether accidentally or intentionally. This form of administration heightens the possibility of contracting HIV or AIDS due to shared needles. One might survive an overdose but the consequences of using not unsterilized syringes can last a lifetime.

Opioid Patches

Opioid patches are often prescribed to individuals who are suffering from long term chronic pain, they  should not be ingested or injected but they have effects that last up to 7 days. Unfortunately, opioid addiction often results in people misusing their medication.  Many people who suffer from opioid addiction will break the patches open and drink the liquid or inject it to produce immediate intoxication.

Smoking Opioids

In contrast to other forms of opioid ingestion; smoking opioids or any form of ingestion via the nasal cavity has a more rapid effect on the substance user than traditional ingestion of tablets or the use of a patch. The effects of the opiate can kick in as quickly as 15 minutes in comparison to ingesting a tablet. Smoking opiates, especially fully synthetic opioids like heroin can have negative side effects such as the reduced capacity of the lungs, liver damage, and some severe irritation to the epidermis.

Opioid Dependence vs Tolerance

Tolerance can be built by the consistent or inconsistent use of a substance, in this case, opioids. Let it be said, however, that opioid tolerance does not equate to dependence or even addiction. It simply means one’s body has acclimated to a certain substance, and to experience the same or similar effects as a previous administration- a higher dosage might be needed. Opioid dependence is when an individual can not go without the use of a particular substance for longer than a certain length of time. Often this time frame can be within a day or even a matter of hours.

Opioid Addiction Signs & Symptoms

There is no guideline to determine in what way each substance abuse user will be impacted by the use of opioids. In some cases, individuals who participate in the use of opiates do not become addicted to the drug, but often that is not the end result. Opioid addiction symptoms of opioid addiction signs might appear as

  • Taking higher dosage medication than prescribed
  • Consuming the prescribed dosage of medication frequently
  • Consuming more than one substance at once such as opioids and alcohol, otherwise known as polysubstance abuse
  • Consuming medication that was not prescribed by their primary care doctor
  • “Track marks” or needle marks on an individual’s arms, legs, or feet.

Some signs of opioid abuse might be subtle such as frequent headaches or lethargy. It is imperative to make note of small changes in behavior or physical appearance, this could indicate severe problems down the line.

Physical Signs of Opioid Addiction

The physical signs for opioid misuse and addiction can be widespread and can be heavily impacted by factors such as the age of the substance abuser, what opioid is being consumed, frequency of consumption, and if this substance is taken alone or in conjunction with other narcotics or products containing alcohol. The physical signs can range from mild nausea and lethargy and graduate to an extreme. Such as loss of motor coordination, drastic changes in weight loss, weight gain, changes in skin color, or hallucinations.

  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Constipation
  • Reduced breathing patterns

Behavioral Signs of Opioid Addiction

Behavioral patterns, or the introduction of new and abnormal behavioral activities or traits that are not characteristic of a particular individual, may appear as signs of opioid addiction. There are many behavioral signs of opioid abuse that can be identified and may be very telling to close friends and family who might be thinking they are seeing signs of substance abuse in a loved one. Changes in actions or personality are one of the most identifiable signs of abuse-even more so than physical signs.

A few of the classic signs of substance abuse of opioids can be

  • Erratic mood swings and thoughtless behavior in driving or stunts
  • Secretive behavior
  • Increase in disorderly conduct that might lead to issues with law enforcement or arrests.
  • Increased aggression with family, friends, co-workers or employer
  • Financial issues
  • Questionable judgment
  • Changes in sex drive this could be an increase or reduction in performance levels
  • Self-isolation or lack of social interaction

Keep an eye out for these changes; they can be an indicator that intervention and further help might be required.

Opioid Abuse Side Effects

Opioid addiction symptoms are usually divided into two different categories, long term, and short term side effects. Opioids work by manipulating the movement of neurotransmitters in the brain. This directly impacts the reduction of activity in the brain, and in turn, the lack of physical pain experienced and the body of the user is overwhelmed with heightened effects of euphoria and pleasure. Opioids impact every major organ function in the body

  • Circulatory System – With the use of intravenous opioid injection, the Opiate abuse side effects may cause the veins to slowly disintegrate or have a lower rate of function.
  • Cerebral Impact – Long-term users of opioids can experience severe damage to the brain, not exclusive to motor coordination skills, short-term and long term memory loss, hallucinations, or comas.
  • Digestive System – It is not uncommon for individuals who use opiates to suffer from constipation and abdominal pain.
  • Nervous System – The nervous system can potentially become extremely sensitive, it becomes difficult for the body to manage pain independently without the use of narcotics.
  • Heart – The heart might be resistant to the effects of opiates but long term use can lead to damage to the heart lining and put one at risk for heart problems and cardiac arrest.
  • Respiratory Function – Smoking any substance will drastically reduce the capacity and strength of the lungs. Opioids drastically reduce the function of the lungs and are fatal.

Other bodily functions that will be negatively impacted as Opiate addiction side effects are the liver, which has a great risk of being exposed to hepatitis if a substance abuser has shared a needle. And finally, the body’s overall immune function will be weakened drastically and will take time to rebuild after the discontinuation of opiates.

Short Term Opioid Abuse

Short term opioid abuse is classified as substance abuse that lasts for less than three months’ time. The effects of short term opioid use can be

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Constipation
  • Slowed breathing rate

Long Term Opioid Side Effects

Long term use of an opioid is considered to be more than three months, the continued use of opioids after 90 days or more is not generally recommended. While other narcotics and addictive substances have negative impacts on the body-opioids side effects can be more fast-acting than other drugs. The side effects of long term opioid abuse can result in extremely negative side effects.

  • Psychotic episodes or hallucinations
  • Anxiety or increased anxiety for those with mental health issues is one of the most common long term opiate abuse side effects
  • Depressive or suicidal thoughts
  • Destruction to the kidneys, liver, and immune function are common long term opiate side effects
  • Heightened risk of heart attack
  • Lack of oxygen or hypoxia
  • An overdose

Risks of PolySubstance Abuse

Opioids should never be used in conjunction with other narcotics or mind-altering substances.

Three of the most common polysubstance abuse combinations are:

  • Opioids and alcohol
  • Opioids and benzodiazepines
  • Cocaine and opioids

Each to these drug combinations has the potential to cause devastating side effects.

Polysubstance abuse many times falls under the category of recreational drug use- “mixing and matching” to see what mixture produces the best high or euphoria. Also, co-occurring disorders such as the presence of a mental health disorder and the presence of opioids are very high-risk situations and the consequences can be impossible to predict.

  • Higher risk of overdosing accidentally or intentionally
  • Increase of toxins in the blood and reduced function of the metabolism
  • Individuals who are polysubstance abusers can be more difficult to treat in the event of the overdose, this makes the chances of survival low.

Causes of Opioid Addiction

The causes of opioid addiction can impact individuals from all walks of life, no demographic, race of social standing can protect one from addiction. While it is known that individuals who have a family history of substance abuse and are prone to compulsions disorders are likely to fall prey to the grips of addiction; many elements can cause an individual to use

  • Dependency due to prescription pills
  • Low-income individuals
  • Persons with a history of reckless behaviors and illegal activities
  • Recreational drug users
  • Individuals with co-occurring disorders, anxiety, depression, and high-stress levels, etc.
  • Individuals with high-stress levels looking for release
  • Former drug or alcohol users

The path towards opioid addiction can widely vary, it is imperative to understand the initial drive that led one to use, to find the right solution and path towards a healthy recovery.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal can be very intense for individuals in recovery. After weeks, months, or years being totally dependent on a substance or substances-the road towards a healthy recovery process will be challenging before an ultimate breakthrough. It is never recommended for a person in recovery to go through the withdrawal process alone, the ideal location for recovery would be at a residential or outpatient detox center. The signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be painful and if they are not managed properly in some cases, life-threatening.

The early stages of withdrawal can appear as increased levels of anxiety…

  • Sleeping problems such as insomnia
  • Heightened levels of anxiety
  • Yawning
  • Changes in a pattern such as irritability or moodiness
  • Excessive sweating

Various other opioid withdrawal symptoms in later stages might include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Distorted vision

The withdrawal stage has many variables, however, signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal can begin as quickly as 24 hours or less and can last up to a week.

Opioid Abuse Statistics

So how many people are addicted to opioids? The short answer is, Too many. The reality is, opioids are responsible for over 47,000 deaths in the past year alone or 130 deaths per day; and over 2 million people in the United States are struggling with opioid use disorders including opioid addiction.

The opioid epidemic is far from being over. A demographic study conducted by the Florida Health Department has shown that the opioid abuse statistics are at the level of an epidemic that has impacted both men and women at almost an equal rate, 42% male, 54% female.

  • Opioid Abuse Prevalence in Men: Opioid crisis statistics have been documented to showcase that opioid abuse prevalence in men is higher than the female population. Men are more likely to become dependent on opiates and have more hospitalizations than women annually.
  • Opioid Abuse Prevalence in Women: Opioid abuse prevalence is lower than men. Studies have shown that one of the primary uses of opioids and women is regarding pain management for hormonal imbalances, menstrual pain, weight control, and mental health problems.
  • Teen Opioid Abuse: Some of the most common reasons that can jump-start teen opioid abuse is recreational drug use, experimentation, and management of mental health problems

Florida Opioid Addiction and Treatment

Florida is known for a playground of sorts for recreational drug use. At times Florida has been referred to as the Vegas of the East Coast, due to the availability of all narcotics and the party lifestyle that is maintained by thousands of residents and vacationers. Statistics have shown that Nearly 68% of the 4,698 reported drug overdose deaths in Florida were directly linked to opioids in 2018; not including the plethora of other narcotics and alcohol overdose as well. In 2018 over 60% of the opioid hospitalizations were due to prescription opioids explicitly and in comparison to the rest of the nation, Florida providers wrote over 53% of prescriptions for every 100 persons which are higher than the national average of 51%.

These statistics might cause one to question the medical system and the regulations that are in place in regards to written prescription opioids. While illegal opioids such as heroin still plague the black market, overdoses due to prescribed medication are still higher in every category. While the State of Florida may struggle against the fight against opioids, it is also working hard to provide solutions and aid those who are in recovery.

As a comprehension analysis of the opioid addiction trend in Florida has shown the following –

  • The highest rate of overdoses occur in the 25-34-year-old age group and the highest hospital visit count concerning opioids
  • The opioid-induced death rate was the highest in white males
  • The opioid with the highest death rate is the prescription Fentanyl

These statistics can prompt one to conclude that it is simply just too easy to obtain an opiate prescription.

Opioid Overdose

Opioid overdose can fall into two categories, accidental and intentional.

Accidental overdoses count for a majority of overdoses that occur annually and there are several reasons as to why these accidents are so prevalent and the mortality rate keeps increasing each year.

  • Polysubstance Abuse – Polysubstance can account for a majority of overdoses that occur, while many times the individual that has overdosed might make it to the hospital – by the time the doctors determine what substances are present in the body it may be too late.
  • Recreational Drug Use – This is common with hardcore partiers and individuals who like to experiment and push their limits to find the greatest high.
  • Overdose – This type of overdose can be due to a simple miscalculation of dosage or increasing the strength of prescription dosage or non-prescription medication. Signs of opioid overdose are listed as follows.

Opioid Overdose Symptoms

There are many classic signs of opioid overdose symptoms to watch out for

  • Loss of color in the face
  • Clammy skin
  • Loss of movement
  • High body temperature or fever
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Blue or purple lips and fingernails
  • Reduction of breathing or total respiratory failure is one of the classic signs of opioid overdose
  • A state of confusion
  • Seizure or convulsions
  • Unable to speak
  • Coma

How to Help an Opioid Addict

Helping someone that is addicted to opioids can be overwhelming. You may feel like you’re not able to make any headway or like every action you take is met with a reaction of anger, negativity, or resentment from your loved one. It’s common to feel this way, but it’s important for you to keep hope. Call our admissions team at 833-397-3422 to learn more about how you can help the opiate addict in your life.

Addiction can have a domino effect on the lives of every person an addict comes into contact with. Whether that be friends, co-workers, loved ones, and partners or your spouse, addiction plays a devastating role in the lives of those that matter most. It can be painful to watch someone we love fall prey to a disease that shows no mercy to its victims. For family and friends to help their loved one begin the process of opioid recovery there are a few tips to keep in mind:

Create a Safe Space

It is not easy for one to speak openly about opioid addiction help. Creating a safe, judgment-free environment can make a huge impact for both the person suffering from substance abuse and for those who are close to them. The ability to speak openly about their substance abuse problems, triggers, and thoughts about recovery can make the process easier for all.

Be Kind

It can be difficult for those watching a loved one suffer from addiction, emotions are at an all-time high, and watching a loved one suffer and at times feelings of being overwhelmed can be too much to process. Just remember to take a step back, think before you speak, and always be kind.

Set an example

Creating and promoting healthy lifestyle choices can help an individual who is suffering from substance abuse is one of the best ways to when asking the question of how to help an opioid addict. Making small changes in lifestyle can help a loved one jumpstart their path to recovery and discover new interests or rekindle old hobbies that they enjoyed before opioids were in the picture. This can be done by changes in diet, cooking, reading, or nature hikes. Little things can make all of the difference.

Do Your Research

Pre or post-intervention it is best to do some research into the nature of opioids, why substance abuse can occur, and what the steps are to fight back and reclaim life. Learn how you can help your loved one get into an opioid addiction treatment program. Florida drug rehab centers like St. John’s Recovery Place specialize in treating opiate addictions. To find out if we can help your loved one, call our admissions team at 833-397-3422.

Opioid Crisis Interventions

Opioid crisis interventions are a necessary element to opioid addiction recovery. If someone you love is abusing opioids, a crisis intervention could mitigate the risk and help you get your loved one into treatment for his or her addiction. To learn about the potential crisis intervention options that are available to you, give our admissions team a call at 833-397-3422.


The word itself can sound intimidating, scary, and may cause one to pause and evaluate the extremity of a loved one’s struggle with opioids. While an opioid crisis intervention can seem to be unnerving, but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.

Curate a Support System

Gather and collaborate with the substance abusers loved ones, friends, family, spiritual mentor and therapist to create a loving environment that emphasizes healing and promotes recovery

Create an Action Plan

Pick a time and environment that is suitable for the opioid intervention and will be non-threatening or physically uncomfortable for the person in recovery to be in.

Be Honest

Express your concerns about their well being and how the addiction to opioids is affecting them individually as well as everyone that surrounds them.

Treatment Options

Ensure that you have completed your preliminary research in regards to detox, recovery process, and treatment center options that are available at their disposal.

Be Patient and Kind

Intervention is just the first step in the recovery process and this stage can have an impact on the road that lies ahead for a substance abuser.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Options

There are various approaches to opioid addiction treatment, after years of studies and researching patterns in recovery, medicated assisted therapy (MAT) has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to approach substance abuse and have long term results. Medicated Assisted Therapy for opioid addiction is a comprehensive approach that blends behavioral therapy treatments, counseling, and the use of medication to assist in the recovery process. Other forms of detox are as follows

  • Traditional Detox: An opioid detox is a systematic approach to removing an addictive substance from the body of a person in recovery. An opioid detoxification process can last several weeks to over the course of several months
  • Residential: Inpatient opioid treatment is conducted within a licensed medical facility. The substance abuse user will be under 24/7 for the best possible results for recovery.
  • Outpatient: This outpatient opioid treatment is conducted outside of a residential center, and includes every step of the recovery process from the initial diagnosis to rehabilitation
  • Dual Diagnosis: Dual Diagnosis is when the presence of a mental health disorder and substance abuse issue problem coexist and are treated simultaneously

Understanding Opioid Abuse and Addiction

Struggling with opioid abuse or helping a loved one with their path towards opioid addiction recovery can be an intense experience. Understanding the patterns and triggers for opioid addiction can assist in aiding the recovery process. If you or someone you love is addicted to opioids, call our admissions team at 833-397-3422 to talk about opioid addiction treatment options that might be available to help you recover.