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Narcotic Abuse, Ambulatory Care


Narcotic abuse

is when you continue to use narcotics even though they are hurting you or others.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Trouble doing your job, attending school, or doing necessary things at home, such as care for your children
  • Driving a vehicle or operating machinery while under the influence of narcotics
  • Legal problems, such as being arrested while under the influence of narcotics
  • Ongoing problems with your friends, family, or others that are caused or made worse by using narcotics

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Feeling very drowsy
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble thinking, remembering things, or focusing

Narcotic dependence

is when using the drugs leads to at least 3 of the following problems within 1 year:

  • Tolerance to narcotics that makes you need more narcotics to feel its effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms if you stop using narcotics after using them heavily over a period of time. Withdrawal may also happen if your healthcare provider changes your medicine. You may try using a similar drug to reduce or prevent the signs and symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Use of more narcotics than you should. You may use more of the narcotic or use it over a longer period of time than you intended.
  • No ability to decrease or control your use of narcotics. You may want narcotics all of the time. You may feel it is not possible to decrease or control the amount you are using.
  • Less time spent around others, at work, or doing activities that you enjoy. You may spend most or all of your time using narcotics, searching for narcotics, or managing a hangover. A hangover is a feeling you have hours after using a drug. You may feel very tired and nauseated.
  • Continued use of the drug even though it worsens your physical or mental condition. For example, you may get depressed after you use narcotics, but you keep using them.

Narcotic intoxication

usually lasts for several hours. You may have the following during or after you use narcotics:

  • Behavior or mood changes, such as a great feeling followed by the feeling that you do not care about anyone or anything
  • Trouble thinking, remembering things, or focusing
  • Decreased pupil size
  • Feeling very drowsy
  • Slurred speech

Narcotic withdrawal

occurs if you stop using narcotics after using them heavily over a period of time. Signs and symptoms may begin within minutes or days and continue for days or even months:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Watery eyes or runny nose
  • Large pupils in your eyes
  • Sweating or goosebumps on your skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Trouble sleeping

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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