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    Painkillers, Narcotic Misuse, and Addiction

    Symptoms of Narcotic Misuse

    Signs and symptoms of opioid misuse include:

    Symptoms of Opioid Drug Withdrawal

    If a person uses opioids for a long time, they often can develop physical dependence and tolerance. Usually, opioid abusers will then take more of the drug, to continue to get high. If a person stops using opioids after they become physically dependent on the drug, they will experience drug withdrawal symptoms.

    Symptoms of drug withdrawal from opioids include:

    • Anxiety
    • Irritability
    • Craving for the drug
    • Rapid breathing
    • Yawning
    • Runny nose
    • Salivation
    • Goosebumps
    • Nasal stuffiness
    • Muscle aches
    • Vomiting
    • Abdominal cramping
    • Diarrhea
    • Sweating
    • Confusion
    • Enlarged pupils
    • Tremors
    • Loss of appetite

    The symptoms of opioid drug withdrawal aren't medically dangerous. But they can be agonizing and intolerable, contributing to continued drug abuse. In general, how severe opioid drug withdrawal symptoms are, and how long they last, depends on how long the person has been abusing opioids and how much they have been taking.

    There are medicines that can be taken in various forms and used to prevent withdrawal symptoms after a person stops using, a process called detoxification (detox). Methadone is widely used to ease the symptoms of opiate withdrawal and is also sometimes used long-term (known as methadone maintenance) to prevent relapse. Buprenorphine (Subutex) is an alternative to methadone for acute detoxification from opiates. It is sometimes combined with naloxone (a combination called Suboxone) for acute treatment of opiate withdrawal. Other medication options to treat acute opiate withdrawal include the blood pressure medicine clonidine. "Rapid detox" using naltrexone (a medicine that blocks opiate receptors) is sometimes done under general anesthesia in specialized treatment centers, although that approach has not been shown to have better outcomes than more traditional detox methods.

    After drug withdrawal is complete, the person is no longer physically dependent on the drug. But psychological dependence can continue. Some people with drug addiction may relapse in response to stress or other powerful triggers.

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