Opioids are strong pain medicines. Examples include hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine. Heroin is an example of an illegal opioid. Opioid use disorder is using these drugs in a way that keeps you from living the life you want. Your use is out of control, and it harms you and your relationships.
Even if you don't see bad effects in your life, it can be dangerous to use opioids in a way that your doctor didn't prescribe.
Taking too much of an opioid can cause:
Some people develop problems with opioids after they get a prescription from a doctor. Others buy these drugs illegally.
Many people with this disorder, and sometimes their families, feel embarrassed or ashamed. Don't let these feelings stand in the way of getting treatment. Remember that the 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:
Treatment usually includes medicines, group therapy, one or more types of counselling, and drug education.
Sometimes medicines are used to help you quit. They may help to control cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms, and prevent relapse. This treatment is called medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. During MAT, you take a substitute drug (usually methadone or buprenorphine) in place of the opioid you were using. Most people take the medicine for months or years as a part of the treatment, along with therapy or counselling.
Treatment focuses on more than drugs. It helps you cope with the anger, frustration, sadness, and disappointment that often happen when a person tries to stop using drugs.
Treatment also looks at other parts of your life. For example, how are your relationships with friends and family? What's going on at school and work? Do you have health problems? What is your 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 drugs.
A drug problem affects your whole family. Family counselling often is part of treatment.
Naloxone is a medicine that reverses the effects of an overdose. If you take it or someone gives it to you soon enough after an overdose, it can save your life. Naloxone comes in a take-home naloxone kit you can carry with you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about having a take-home naloxone 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 call line 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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Current as of: May 7, 2018
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Michael F. Bierer MD - Internal Medicine,
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