What is the destructive behavioral pattern associated with opioid abuse?

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: David W Dixon, DO; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Mu receptor agonists with rapid onset of action and short half-lives have the greatest potential for destructive addictive behaviors, as addicted individuals get immediate reward followed by noticeable withdrawal symptoms. For example, heroin typically produces the following destructive behavioral pattern:

  1. Intravenous (IV) injection causes a rapid high followed, within hours, by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

  2. These unpleasant symptoms cause the addicted individual to engage in extremely destructive and often illegal behaviors to obtain more heroin.

  3. This cycle repeats itself endlessly until the individual can no longer access heroin.

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