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Opioid Addiction

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by McCoy K

Risk Factors

Opioid addiction is more common in males and people under 30 years old (risk of addiction decreases as age increases). Other factors that may increase your chance of opioid addiction include:
Physical dependence may contribute to the development and continuance of addiction. Physical dependence is when your body needs a drug to function normally. Withdrawal symptoms when the medicine is stopped or reduced can be a sign of physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms can be intense and include nausea, vomiting, and sweating. It can make cessation of drug use difficult. Physical dependence may occur with abuse or with long term proper use of medications.


Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

Rehabilitation Programs

Rehabilitation programs can be inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient rehab involves staying in a controlled environment from several weeks up to one year, depending on nature of addiction and factors that contribute to the addiction. Before going home, some inpatients reside at half-way houses where they can slowly regain their independence. Outpatient rehab can also last up to a year, but you can live at home. Outpatients make frequent visits to clinics for treatment.
Components of all rehab involves:
  • Detoxification and controlled withdrawal with medication
  • Treatment for other psychological conditions
  • Counseling and support

Support Groups

Narcotics Anonymous is a twelve-step program that help support people who are recovering from addiction to opioid drugs.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is designed to modify people’s attitudes and behaviors related to opioid abuse. In therapy, you will learn how to avoid and cope with situations in which you are most likely to use drugs, and avoid situations that may cause relapse. Therapy sessions may include individual, group, or family counseling.


Certain medications can be used to treat opioid dependence and addiction. They may be used during detoxification to reduce withdrawal symptoms. They may also be continued through maintenance to decrease craving and reduce the risk of relapse. They are given as a part of an overall treatment approach including counseling. Common medication options include:
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone
  • Buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone)
The choice of medication will depend on drugs involved in addiction, your medical history, and recovery commitment.
Other medications may be needed to treat underlying issues, such as depression or anxiety. These medications may help you on your way to a full and productive life as well as prevent relapse.


American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor

National Institute on Drug Abuse



Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

The Council on Drug Abuse



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