Opiates Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs

Hydrocodone (Vicodin) is the most frequently prescribed opioid in the United States. Oxycodone (Oxycontin) and hydrocodone are prescribed in the treatment of acute and chronic pain. Abusers of hydrocodone and oxycodone experience euphoria, relaxation, and sedation. Long-term use can result in tolerance. Abusers may overdose as they take increasing doses of the medication while pursuing euphoric sensations that they previously experienced. Overdoses may result in severe respiratory depression, hypotension, coma, and death. Recently, methadone, primarily diverted from prescriptions for chronic pain and not metha-done maintenance treatment, has been linked to increased opiate overdoses as well. Its relatively long onset of action and long half-life make methadone-naive individuals more prone to overdose as they seek a stronger high with escalating doses, which accumulate, causing overdose.

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