Know the Signs and Get Help for Opioid Addiction

A Pathway to Treatment and Recovery

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Addiction is a medical condition. Treatment can help. Recovery is possible.

Opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder (OUD), is a chronic and relapsing disease that affects the body and brain. Anyone can become addicted even when opioids are prescribed by a doctor and taken as directed. Millions of Americans suffer from opioid addiction.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

When using opioids has caused issues like job loss, money problems, or other hardships, a person’s continued use is a major warning sign of addiction. Other signs could also include:

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Trying to stop or cut down on opioid use but not being able to.

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Making mistakes at school or on the job because of using opioids.

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Hurting relationships with family and friends because of opioid use.

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Developing a tolerance and needing larger amounts of opioids to get high.

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Overdosing on drugs.

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Having strong cravings for opioids.

If you know or suspect someone has opioid addiction, ask if you can help.

Treatment for Addiction Can Help

Addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. Treatment can help people struggling with opioid addiction get their lives back on track by allowing them to counteract addiction’s powerful effects on their brain and behavior. The overall goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in their family, workplace, and community. Preventing overdose death and finding treatment options are the first steps to recovery. While no single treatment method is right for everyone, recovery is possible, and help is available for opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction treatment:

  • Helps people who are addicted stop compulsive drug seeking and use.
  • Varies depending the patient’s individual needs
  • Occurs in a variety of settings, takes many different forms, and can last for varying lengths of time.
  • May save a life.

As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally:

  • Manages the disease, is usually not a cure.
  • Should be ongoing and should be adjusted based on how the patient responds.
  • Needs to be reviewed often and modified to fit the patient’s changing needs.

Evidence-based approaches to treating opioid addiction include medications and combining medications with behavioral therapy. Treatment and the support and help from family, friends, co-workers, and others can make a big difference in the recovery process.

Medications for Opioid Addiction

A recovery plan that includes medication for opioid addiction increases the chance of success. Medications used in the treatment of opioid addiction support a person’s recovery by helping to normalize brain chemistry, relieving cravings, and in some cases preventing withdrawal symptoms.

The choice to include medication as part of recovery is a personal medical decision, but the evidence for medications to support successful recovery is strong.

Medications for opioid addiction include:

Buprenorphine
  • Available as dissolving tablet, cheek film, extended-release injection, or 6-month implant under the skin.
  • Can be prescribed by a doctor for use outside of a clinic.
Methadone
  • Available as daily liquid.
  • Can only be used in a certified opioid treatment program setting.
Naltrexone
  • Can be prescribed by any clinician who can legally prescribe medication.
  • Only used for people who have not used opioids for at least 7–10 days.

Talk with a doctor to find out what types of treatments are available in your area and what options are best for you and/or your loved one. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease; be sure to ask your doctor about the risk of relapse and overdose.

Access the latest data. Learn what can be done about overdoseand related harms. CDC VitalSigns