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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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • 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 decrease pain and fever.
  • 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.


  • Urine tests may be done to check the amount and type of opioids you are using.
  • Blood tests give healthcare providers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.


  • Detoxification is the process of slowly decreasing your dose of opioids. You will also be given medicine to decrease your withdrawal symptoms.
  • Maintenance therapy is when your healthcare provider prescribes another type of opioid to replace the opioid that you are dependent on.
  • Psychological 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.


Opioid withdrawal may be uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.