Prescription opiates are a group of pharmacologic drugs commonly prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), prescription opiates have been classified as Schedule II drugs, meaning that they pose a high potential for abuse and dependence. Unfortunately, many people with prescriptions for opiates end up abusing them.
Another common form of opium is heroin, which is an illegal drug that is classified as a Schedule I drug. This means that heroin has no accepted medical abuse and a high potential for addiction. Both prescription drugs and heroin are also commonly purchased illicitly as a means to achieve euphoria and other effects.
Whether your girlfriend takes opiates for pain relief or for illicit, mind-altering reasons, addiction remains a concern. Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Individuals who abuse opiates often acquire a physical addiction. When the opiates are no longer taken, withdrawal symptoms often occur. You may wonder if your girlfriend’s opiate use has progressed into addiction; here are some of the different indicators to look for:
- Higher doses of opiates are taken to achieve the same effects.
- Withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, sweating or insomnia when opiates are not taken.
- Illegal or harmful methods are used to acquire opiates such as stealing.
- Absence from work or school and withdrawal from social gatherings.
Opiate addiction can be very difficult to overcome. In many cases, anger and agitation are a common response from an opiate addict. However, this is a necessary step to take for the health of your loved one.
Set Limits and Boundaries
If you are concerned about your girlfriend’s use of opiates, there are many directions you can take in helping her overcome the problem. One of the most beneficial ways to help your girlfriend reduce her opiate use is to define and set clear boundaries. When you set limits and boundaries with your partner, she may be initially angry and resentful of these rules. However, if you simply allow her to engage in destructive behavior, you enable her to continue down this dangerous path. Ultimately, a lack of boundaries will result in negative consequences for not only her health but also in your relationship.
When you set limits, take the time to determine what behaviors are unacceptable to you. Is she aggressive when abusing opiates? Has she borrowed or stolen money from you to purchase opiates? Has her opiate use caused her to forget about plans you have previously made? Be honest with yourself and establish what behaviors are unacceptable to you.
Once you have determined how your girlfriend’s opiate abuse has affected your life—and what behaviors are unacceptable—clearly communicate what the consequences will be for those actions. Most of all, it is important to follow through with the consequences every time the behavior occurs. Otherwise, you will enable her to engage in substance abuse.
Get Help for Opiate Addiction
If you are not sure how to handle this situation, please call our helpline for support. Our professionally trained counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for opiate addiction. When you make the call, your information is completely confidential. Don’t wait—take the first step forward toward a sober life.
 https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/science-drug-abuse-addiction-basics The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics