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Narcotic Abuse


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 care immediately if:

  • You are very drowsy.
  • Your speech is slurred.
  • You have trouble thinking, remembering things, or focusing.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You want help or information on how to stop using or abusing narcotics.

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
  • Small pupils
  • 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
  • Sweating or goosebumps on your skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Trouble sleeping

How narcotics can harm a pregnant woman and her baby:

  • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you are trying to get pregnant or you are pregnant and you are using narcotics. Your doctor may suggest other medicines to control pain and prevent withdrawal. If you go through withdrawal while pregnant, you may miscarry your baby, or he may be stillborn. He may be very small and have other medical problems.
  • When your baby is born, he may show signs of withdrawal. This includes unexpected weight loss, poor feeding, and more crying than normal. Your baby may also have a fever, vomit, and have diarrhea. He may also have learning problems or other health issues when he gets older. If you have a baby and you are using narcotics, you may have trouble caring for your baby. Narcotics may be passed to your baby through breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider before breastfeeding your baby if you are using narcotics.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

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

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Narcotic Abuse (Ambulatory Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex