Footprints to Recovery

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The alarming rise in opioid use disorders over the past few decades is a problem that needs to be addressed. Opioid medications are powerful drugs that alter brain chemistry and lead to serious opioid withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them. They are often prescribed by healthcare providers to alleviate severe pain, such as pain after surgery or injury or in cases of chronic pain conditions like cancer. Opioids can be natural or synthetic. That means they can be made from the opium poppy plant or modified in a lab to make hybrid or full-synthetic medication.

Some common opioids include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Tramadol

Prescription medications that include opioids are some of the most difficult to overcome. At Footprints to Recovery, we offer treatment programs for prescription drug addiction and other opioid addictions. Our approach involves integrating holistic and evidence-based treatments for a comprehensive treatment plan.

Why Do People Get Addicted to Opioids?

Because everyone is different, people become addicted to opioids for a variety of reasons. The factors that play into addiction are biological, psychological, and social.
Here are some of the most common ways people develop opioid addictions:

  • Pain management: Opioids are often prescribed to manage pain, especially after surgery or in cases of severe or chronic pain. Some people develop a dependence on these medications when they continue to use opioids beyond the prescribed duration or dose to manage pain. This can lead to addiction.
  • Fun: Opioids can produce intense feelings of pleasure and euphoria when they interact with opioid receptors in the brain. Once you feel them, it can be hard to forget, leading you to seek out opioids for the rewarding experience. But as you use opioids more frequently, you may develop a tolerance to the drug. This opens the door for an opioid overdose. 
  • Stress management: Some people use opioids to relieve stress, anxiety, emotional pain, and trauma. It’s often easier to ignore life’s challenges with substances rather than face challenges head-on.
  • Genetic factors: Your genes can play a role in your susceptibility to opioid addiction. Some people have genetic variations that make them more vulnerable to developing addiction when exposed to opioids.
  • Peer influence and social factors: Social and environmental factors, such as your social network and access to opioids, can play significant roles in addiction. If you are surrounded by others who use opioids or have easy access to these drugs, you may be more likely to develop addiction.
  • Mental health: If you have underlying mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, you may be at a higher risk of opioid addiction. Opioids can temporarily alleviate symptoms of mental illness, which can reinforce drug use as a coping mechanism.

What Are the Physical Warning Signs of Opioid Abuse?

Opioids are powerful medications that can affect the way someone feels, behaves, and even how they look. Understanding the signs and symptoms of opioid abuse can help you notice when friends or family struggle with addiction. Here are some of the physical signs of opioid addiction to look out for: 

  • Lethargy or drowsiness 
  • Constricted pupils 
  • Slurred speech
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Itching or scratching at the skin
  • Slowed breathing and a depressed respiratory system
  • Poor personal hygiene

Long-term physical addiction signs include:

  • Weight loss
  • Collapsed veins
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Breathing problems
  • Sexual dysfunction

Along with the above signs, there are other physical indicators of opioid addiction in the environment of someone abusing opioids. For instance, finding:

  • Multiple bottles of opioid pills
  • Needles
  • Spoons with burn marks
  • Cotton balls
  • Tin foil
  • Lighters 

What Are the Behavioral Signs of Opioid Addiction?

There are also behavioral symptoms that can indicate someone has an opioid use disorder; for instance:
  • Poor hygiene
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleeping at odd times, or lack of a sleeping schedule
  • Impulsivity
  • Poor decision-making
  • Withdrawing from their social life
  • Forming new friendships all at once
  • Financial problems
  • Legal problems
  • Neglecting obligations
  • Drug-related arrests or accidents
  • Lying about pain
  • Constantly needing to refill their prescriptions 
  • Going to multiple doctors to obtain medication

What Are the Mental and Emotional Warning Signs of Opioid Addiction?

The mental and emotional effects of opioid use can best be described as a general “slowing-down.” Opiates cause someone to think and move much more slowly. They will have a harder time reacting to questions and keeping up with conversations.

Short-term mental and emotional signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Mental fog
  • Drowsiness
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired judgment

Long-term mental and emotional addiction signs include:

  • Depression
  • Developing tolerance, meaning they need more of the drug to achieve the same feeling

What Happens If You Don’t Get Help for Opioid Abuse?

The consequences of not getting help for an opioid addiction can be severe. Opioid addiction is a progressive, life-threatening condition. Without intervention, the situation tends to worsen over time. Here are some of the potential outcomes of not getting help for opioid abuse:


Opioid abuse increases the risk of overdose, which can be fatal. Overdosing on opioids can lead to respiratory failure, coma, and death.

Physical Health Problems

Chronic opioid abuse can lead to a variety of health issues, including: 

  • Heart problems
  • Liver disease
  • Infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Hormonal imbalances

Tolerance and Withdrawal

Over time, the body becomes tolerant to opioids. That means you need higher doses to achieve the desired effects. This leads to a cycle of using more and more drugs with more and more severe withdrawal symptoms when you’re not using opioids. You may turn to “doctor shopping” in order to maintain your supply of prescription opioids.

Mental Health Issues

Opioid abuse can exacerbate or contribute to mental illness such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders. Seeking help early can improve your chances of recovery and reduce the harm associated with opioid abuse. If you think someone you care about is abusing opioids, encouraging them to seek help and providing support can make a significant difference in their journey toward recovery.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Statistics

The statistics surrounding the opioid crisis in America are concerning. Here are some that highlight how dangerous the problem is and why intervention is necessary for those who struggle with pain medication addiction.

  • More than 75% of all overdose deaths in 2021 involved some kind of opioid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of overdose deaths jumped 14% from 2020 to 2021 alone. 
  • More than 10 million people abuse opioids each year, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. 
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017. 
  • Fentanyl factored into nearly 20% of all opioid-related deaths.

Opioid Addiction Treatment at Footprints to Recovery

At Footprints to Recovery your sobriety is our priority. We offer a variety of treatment programs for substance abuse, including opioid-specific treatment plans. When you trust Footprints to Recovery with your treatment, you’re putting yourself in the best position to overcome opioid or opiate abuse.
You can expect our staff to welcome you with open arms as you take steps to better yourself. Our facilities are safe and comfortable places where anyone can find a path to sobriety that suits their needs. We offer unique levels of care that can help you turn your life around one step at a time. Rather than be overwhelmed at the prospect of sobriety, our clinical team is here to guide you at your own pace to a brighter future.
Our unique levels of care for abuse of opioid medications include:

Detox is a key part of the recovery process. It involves getting all opioid medication out of your system so you can move on to sobriety. Our detox team helps make the process safe and comfortable for everyone. 

Medication-Assisted Opioid Addiction Treatment

Detoxing from opioids is made easier by medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, in a medical detox setting. There are three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat opioid withdrawal. They are: 

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone 

These drugs bind to your brain’s opioid receptors but prevent the feeling of being high. They are often used as part of a tapering process to slowly and gradually help step someone down from their opioid abuse. Only a skilled and qualified team of addiction treatment professionals can administer these medications due to the risks and withdrawal symptoms associated with them. 

Inpatient treatment involves spending 24/7 at a treatment center working towards sobriety. Residential rehab offers a comprehensive approach to clinical care that helps you develop the skills and strategies you need to recover from opioid addiction.
During a PHP, you spend about six hours per day in individualized therapy programs at a treatment facility. The other hours of the day are free for you to pursue normal daily activities, such as school or work. This allows you to remain connected to your existing support systems.
An IOP helps you transition back into your everyday life from prescription drug addiction. You can learn coping skills to handle triggers when they come up. You will attend meetings or therapy sessions a few times per week to learn how to better manage your thoughts and behaviors, but you’ll live at home or in a sober living facility.

Outpatient rehab allows a more gradual transition back into your own life. Clients usually attend treatment once or twice per week. The caring team of treatment counselors at Footprints to Recovery is available at all times. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, give us a call. We’ll help you decide which treatment option is right for you and give you information about how to get started. Calls are free and confidential. We look forward to helping you begin your recovery journey.

Questions about treatment options?

Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.