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Opioid use disorder means that a person uses opioids even though it causes harm to themself or others. It can range from mild to severe. The more signs of it you have, the more severe it may be. Moderate to severe opioid use disorder is sometimes called dependence or addiction. People who have it may find it hard to control their use.
This disorder can occur with the use of any type of opioid. Prescription ones include hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine. Heroin is an example of an illegal opioid.
Opioids can be dangerous. Taking too much can cause:
Many people with this disorder feel embarrassed or ashamed. Their families may feel that way too. Don't let these feelings stand in the way of getting treatment. Remember that this disorder can happen to anyone who uses opioids, no matter what the reason.
You may have opioid use disorder if two or more of the following are true. The more signs of this disorder you have, the more severe it may be.
Even if you take opioids as part of a supervised care plan, you can still develop opioid use disorder.
Treatment usually includes medicines, group therapy, one or more types of counselling, and drug education.
Medicines may be used to help you quit. They may help to control cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms, and prevent relapse. This treatment is called opioid agonist treatment or OAT. During OAT, you take a medicine (usually methadone or buprenorphine/naloxone) in place of the opioid you were using. Most people take it for months or years as a part of the treatment, along with therapy or counselling.
Treatment focuses on more than opioid use. It helps you cope with the feelings that often happen when people try to stop using opioids. These feelings may include anger, frustration, sadness, and disappointment.
Treatment also looks at other parts of your life, like your relationships with friends and family. It looks at your school and work, medical problems, and living situation. Treatment helps you find and manage problems. It helps you take control of your life so you don't have to depend on opioids.
A drug problem affects your whole family. Family counselling often is part of treatment.
Naloxone is a medicine that reverses the effects of an opioid poisoning. If you take it or someone gives it to you soon enough after a poisoning, it can save your life. It comes in a rescue kit you can carry with you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about having a naloxone rescue kit on hand. You can get naloxone without a prescription at most drugstores or through a community Take Home Naloxone program.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
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Adaptation Date: 2/25/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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