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Pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder

Eric Strain, MD
Section Editor
Andrew J Saxon, MD
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Opioids, used medically for pain relief, have analgesic and central nervous system depressant effects, as well as the potential to cause euphoria. Opioid use disorder can involve prescribed or nonprescribed use of pharmaceutical opioids or use of illicitly obtained heroin. Opioid use disorder is typically a chronic, relapsing illness, associated with significantly increased rates of morbidity and mortality.

In patients with opioid use disorder who have achieved abstinence through medically supervised withdrawal or other means, there are medication and nonmedication options for long-term maintenance treatment. Medication treatment is often much more effective in opioid use disorder compared with abstinence-based therapy, a nonmedication treatment [1,2].

Maintenance pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder is reviewed here. The epidemiology, pharmacology, clinical manifestations, course, screening, assessment, diagnosis, and psychosocial treatment for opioid use disorder are discussed separately, as are topics on medically supervised opioid withdrawal, prescription drug misuse, substance use disorder in physicians, and treatment of acute pain in the patient chronically using opioids:

(See "Psychosocial interventions for opioid use disorder".)

(See "Opioid use disorder: Epidemiology, pharmacology, clinical manifestations, course, screening, assessment, and diagnosis".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: Jan 13, 2017.
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