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Opioid Dependence


Opioids are medicines, such as morphine and codeine, used to treat pain. Dependence happens after you have used opioids regularly for a long period of time. Dependence means that your body gets used to how much medicine you take. Dependence is not the same as addiction. Addiction means that a person uses opioids to get high instead of using them to control pain.



You may need the following:

  • NSAIDs or other pain medicines help decrease pain. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
  • Maintenance therapy medicine is another type of opioid that replaces the opioid you are dependent on.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider or pain specialist as directed:

You may need to return for other tests. You may also be referred to a specialty clinic to receive maintenance therapy medicine on a regular basis. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Psychological counseling and support:

Your healthcare provider may recommend that you receive psychological counseling as part of your treatment plan. A specially trained healthcare provider will speak with you about your opioid dependence. They will help you find ways to become less dependent on opioids. They may also help you find resources for any daily living needs you have, such as housing or employment.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your speech is slurred.
  • You have difficulty staying awake.
  • You have nausea and vomiting.
  • You are easily upset or cry easily.
  • You have poor balance.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You feel lightheaded or faint.
  • You have a fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat.
  • You have a seizure.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.