Opioid withdrawal


Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress. Symptoms of the disorder include a strong desire to use opioids, increased tolerance to opioids, difficulty fulfilling obligations, trouble reducing use, and withdrawal syndrome with discontinuation. Opioid withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, muscle aches, diarrhea, trouble sleeping, agitation, and a low mood. Addiction and dependence are components of a substance use disorder. Complications may include opioid overdose, suicide, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, marriage problems, or unemployment.

Opioids include substances such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. In the United States, a majority of heroin users begin by using prescription opioids. These can be bought illegally or prescribed. Risk factors for misuse include a history of substance use, substance use among family and friends, mental illness, low socioeconomic status, and race. Diagnosis may be based on criteria by the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM-5. If more than two of eleven criteria are present during a year, the diagnosis is said to be present. If a person is appropriately taking opioids for a medical condition, issues of tolerance and withdrawal do not apply.

Individuals with an opioid use disorder are often treated with opioid replacement therapy using methadone or buprenorphine. Being on such treatment reduces the risk of death. Additionally, individuals may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, other forms of support from mental health professionals such as individual or group therapy, twelve-step programs, and other peer support programs. The medication naltrexone may also be useful to prevent relapse. Naloxone is useful for treating an opioid overdose and giving those at risk naloxone to take home is beneficial.

In 2013, opioid use disorders affected about 0.4% of people. As of 2016, about 27 million people are affected. Long term opioid use occurs in about 4% of people following their use for trauma or surgery related pain. Onset is often in young adulthood. Males are affected more often than females. It resulted in 122,000 deaths worldwide in 2015, up from 18,000 deaths in 1990. In the United States during 2016, there were more than 42,000 deaths due to opioid overdose, of which more than 15,000 were the result of heroin use.

Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET