Why do opiate overdoses (ODs) often occur when users relapse?

When recovering opiate addicts relapse, heroin addicts in particular, why does it often results in an overdose? What makes opiates different from other drugs in this way?

asked 16 Feb '12, 22:08

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Lamb
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Relapse occurs when a recovering addict, who has successfully avoided substance use for a given period, uses drugs again. Relapse is most common among alcoholics and heroin addicts. An overdose (OD) is classified as the ingestion of a drug in quantities greater than recommended or typically consumed and can result in death.

(25 Feb '12, 12:51) Jack ♦

opiates

Opiates

Opiates, like Heroin and Oxycontin, are highly addictive and can be harmful when taken in high doses.

drug-abuse

Drug Abuse

Drug abuse can get out of hand and lead to overdoses.

heroin

Heroin

Heroin is an opiate. Heroin relapse is relatively common in the drug the world, and can be very dangerous as tolerance drops.

opiate-addiction

Opiate Addiction

Relapse is a result of an addiction overpowering an addict's recovery.

opiate-recovery

Opiate Recovery

Relapse occurs as a sober addict begins using drugs again during recovery.


Opiate tolerance drops rapidly when you’re not using. People who have abstained from drugs end up with a very low tolerance in comparison to what they had when they stopped. If a person who has been abstinent for several weeks should relapse, they will require much smaller doses in order to get high. This kills thousands of addicts every year, because the lethal dose drops as well. If they go back to using anything close to what they used previously, an OD is not only possible, but likely. People most at risk are those getting out of detox and treatment, or out of prison.

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answered 16 Feb '12, 22:40

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Jack ♦
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accept rate: 3%

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Asked: 16 Feb '12, 22:08

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Last updated: 23 Aug '12, 20:54