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Narcotic Abuse (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Narcotic Abuse

People who use narcotics or other drugs of abuse and are interested in quitting should contact their doctor or local hospital for information on how to get involved with a detoxification and addiction recovery program.

  • Any person suspected of narcotic overdose requires immediate medical attention and must be taken to a hospital's emergency department.
  • The main physical signs of narcotic overdose are small pupils and respiratory depression (shallow breathing) that can lead to decreased oxygen in the blood, coma, and death.
  • Street methods of overdose resuscitation, such as packing the person in ice or injecting milk or saliva, do not work.

Exams and Tests for Narcotic Abuse

The initial diagnosis of narcotic overdose in the emergency department is made based on obtaining a history and considering the signs and symptoms that the patient is experiencing. Almost all unconscious people receive a drug called naloxone (Narcan), which is known as a narcotic antagonist because it blocks and reverses the effects of narcotics. After the initial resuscitation, opioids are easy to detect in a routine urine test. Information from friends and family or indicators such as pill bottles or drug paraphernalia may provide important clues to the emergency doctors about the person's drug use and abuse.

Information from friends and family or indicators such as pill bottles or drug paraphernalia may provide important clues to the emergency doctors about the person's drug use and abuse.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/7/2016
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