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Opioid Withdrawal


Opioid withdrawal is a group of symptoms that occur when you suddenly decrease or stop taking opioids. Opioids include medicines to control pain, such as morphine and codeine, and illegal drugs, such as heroin. Withdrawal symptoms occur if you are physically dependent on opioids. Dependence means that your body gets used to how much medicine you take. This happens after you have used opioids regularly for a long time. Addiction means that a person uses opioids to get high instead of using them to control pain.



You may need any of the following:

  • Opioid medicine may still be needed if you have chronic pain. Your healthcare provider will tell you if you need to continue taking an opioid and explain how you should take it.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Blood pressure medicine decreases symptoms of withdrawal, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle tension, and anxiety.
  • Antianxiety medicine decreases anxiety and helps you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Antinausea medicine helps calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Maintenance therapy medicine is another type of opioid that replaces the opioid you are dependent on.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her 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 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:

Counseling and support may be provided to you if you are dependent on opioids. Healthcare providers will speak with you about your opioid use. They may also help you find resources for any daily living needs you have, such as housing or employment.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You are about to run out of your opioid medicine.
  • You have nausea and vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a fast 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.