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Psychosocial interventions for opioid use disorder

Michelle Peavy
Section Editor
Andrew J Saxon, MD
Deputy Editor
Richard Hermann, MD


Opioids have analgesic and central nervous system depressant effects, as well as the potential to cause euphoria. They are used medically for pain relief, can be lethal in overdose, and are highly addictive. Patients can develop an opioid use disorder through misuse of pharmaceutical opioids (either prescribed or not) and through use of illicitly obtained heroin. Opioid use disorder is typically a chronic, relapsing illness, associated with significant morbidity and mortality.

Pharmacotherapy, known as medication-assisted treatment, is first-line treatment for most patients with an opioid use disorder. Psychosocial interventions are often used as adjuncts to medication. Some patients prefer abstinence-based therapy, a nonmedication treatment typically consisting of multiple psychosocial services.

This topic reviews psychosocial treatments for opioid use disorders. The epidemiology, pharmacology, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis is reviewed separately. Pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder is also reviewed separately. Medically supervised opioid withdrawal is also reviewed separately. Misuse of prescription drugs is also reviewed separately. Prevention of lethal opioid overdose in the community is also reviewed separately.

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

(See "Pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 26, 2017.
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