Opiate addiction has been a source of pain and suffering for thousands of years. In the United States alone, recent estimates suggest that more than 1 million people abuse heroin on a regular basis and that over 2 million people abuse prescription opiates each year, leading to countless deaths due to overdose. Those numbers have risen quickly over the past decade, making opiate dependence an urgent problem for society at large.
The long-term consequences of opiate abuse may include:
- Chronic or phantom pain
- Low blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Suicidal thoughts
As with other drugs of abuse, opiate addiction is defined as persistent compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite significant negative consequences.
Common signs of opiate dependence include:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Constant fixation with finding and using drugs
- Depression and/or social withdrawal
- Increased secretive or deceptive behavior
- Reduced ability to focus or stay organized
- Severe changes in mood or behavior