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Opioid Abuse

drug addict Ramona CA

Practice Essentials

opiod abuse San Diego CAOpioid abuse are powerful pain killers that are highly addictive. Opioid dependence affects nearly 5 million people in the United States and leads to approximately 17,000 deaths annually. [1]  According to the CDC, rates of opioid overdose deaths jumped significantly, from 7.9 per 100,000 in 2013 to 9.0 per 100,000 in 2014, a 14% increase. [2] Half of deaths due to drug overdose (22,000 per year) are related to prescription drugs, according to a report on the leading cause of deaths from injury in the United States. 

Opioid Abuse : Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of opioid abuse can be categorized by physical state.

Intoxication state

Patients with opioid use disorders frequently relapse and present with intoxication. Symptoms vary according to level of intoxication. For mild to moderate intoxication, individuals may present with drowsiness, pupillary constriction, and slurred speech. For severe overdose, patients may experience respiratory depression, stupor, and coma. A severe overdose may be fatal.

Withdrawal state

Symptoms of withdrawal include the following:

  • Autonomic symptoms – diarrhea, rhinorrhea, diaphoresis, lacrimation, shivering, nausea, emesis, piloerection
  • Central nervous system arousal – sleeplessness, restlessness, tremors
  • Pain – abdominal cramping, bone pains, and diffuse muscle aching
  • Craving – for the medication


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines opioid use disorder as a problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period: 

  • Taking larger amounts of opioids or taking opioids over a longer period than was intended
  • Experiencing a persistent desire for the opioid or engaging in unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control opioid use.
  • Spending a great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of the opioid.
  • Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use opioids.
  • Using opioids in a fashion that results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.

Read more at emedicine.medscape.com