Opioid abuse occurs when the compulsive use of opioids harms a person’s health or social functioning, or when a person is addicted to or dependent on opioids. Addiction and dependence means having a
need for continued use of a drug (dependence) versus a
drive (addiction) for continued use of a drug. Addiction and dependence may occur at the same time.
Opioids are a class of drugs made from opium, as well as synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs that resemble these opium-based drugs. Opioids include heroin, morphine,
. Opioid drugs are also often referred to as narcotic drugs or narcotics.
This condition can be treated. Talk to your doctor if you think you are abusing opioids.
Opioids produce a quick, intense feeling of pleasure (euphoria), followed by a sense of well-being and calm drowsiness. When opioids are used repeatedly, your brain is likely to become dependent on them. Opioids are a highly addictive type of drug.
Chemical Release in Brain
Opioids stimulate the release of "euphoric" chemicals in the brain. Over time, more drug is required to produce the same release, leading to opioid abuse.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. He will ask you specific questions about your opioid use, such as how long you have been using opioids and how often you use them. Urine drug screens or serum drug tests may be performed to verify the presence of opioid drugs in your system.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
In rehabilitation programs, people with opioid abuse stay in a controlled environment for 6-12 months, during which they learn to become reintegrated into society. It may be necessary to be in a detoxification center initially, where the side effects of drug withdrawal can be safely managed.
Similar in format to Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous is a twelve-step type program that has a good record for supporting individuals who are recovering from addiction to opioid drugs.
Behavioral therapies to help people quit are designed to modify people’s attitudes and behaviors related to opioid abuse. In therapy, you will learn how to avoid and cope with situations in which you are most likely to use drugs.
These medications have been shown to be effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms:
Purcell TB. Factitious disorders and malingering.
Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice
. 6th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby; 2006.
Edlund M, Steffick D, Hudson T, K. Harris, M. Sullivan. Risk factors for clinically recognized opioid abuse and dependence among veterans using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain.
Volume 129, Issue 3, Pages 355-362
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a