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Must-Knows About Opioid Dependence

Opioid addiction
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New Horizons Medical drug and opioid treatment program

What is opioid dependence?

Opioid dependence is defined by the CDC as a problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress. Currently, “opioid use disorder” (OUD) is the preferred term that has replaced opioid abuse, opioid addiction, and opioid dependence.

It can be classified as:

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How is opioid dependence different from opioid addiction?

While many people use the terms dependence and addiction interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two. Both terms are now under the umbrella term “opioid use disorder”.

Addiction refers to compulsion or uncontrollable urge to use a substance, regardless of its negative effects or lack of indication. On the other hand, dependence involves the body’s physical need to have the substance. Dependence can happen after using too much of a drug or using it too often, leading to tolerance or “getting used to” the dose. Withdrawal is a physical response that occurs if someone who is dependent stops using the substance or significantly reduces their dose.

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Addiction has many factors, including genetics, family history, environment, and the substance being used. There are certain parts of the brain that contribute to addiction, primarily the “reward center”. Some substances, like nicotine and opioids, are highly addictive because they stimulate the reward center of the brain which releases a flood of feel-good hormones like dopamine and endorphins.

Unfortunately, these effects are not permanent and once the “high” wears off, some people find themselves wanting more and more. This is dubbed by some people as, “chasing the high” or “getting their fix”.

In short: opioid dependence involves physical changes which make the body want the drug, while addiction is the mental or behavior changes associated with it. Most people who are addicted are also dependent, but not everyone who is dependent is addicted.

How is someone diagnosed with opioid use disorder or opioid dependence?

In order to be officially diagnosed with OUD or opioid dependence, a patient must have at least 2 of the following within the span of a year (12 months):

  1. Taking opioid medications in excess amounts or prolonged periods.
  2. Persistent desire and/or unsuccessfully being able to control or cut down opioid use.
  3. Spending too much time trying to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of opioids.
  4. Strong cravings or urge to use opioids.
  5. Recurrent use that interferes with social and personal obligations.
  6. Continuing to use opioids despite the negative consequences.
  7. Reducing or giving up time with friends and family, work, or hobbies in favor of opioid use.
  8. Continuing to use opioids despite being in an inappropriate or dangerous setting.
  9. Continuing to use opioids despite being aware that it does physical and/or emotional harm to oneself.
  10. Tolerance to opioids (not considered if the treatment is medically supervised).
  11. Experiencing withdrawal (not considered if the treatment is medically supervised)

Criteria based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)

Seeking treatment

New Horizons Medical offers same-day appointments to help people control the opioid use disorder and any urges related to opioid use. If you or someone you know shows any of the above conditions and is in need of professional help please give us a call at 888-999-2041.

Make a change for the better, today. Opioid use disorder is a serious health problem for millions of people in America. We can help you find an addiction treatment center near you and book a telehealth appointment now.

Contact information

Please contact New Horizons Medical Treatment Center to make an appointment for the Outpatient Opioid Abuse program. Call 888-999-2041 for a free consultation and to schedule your appointment today.

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    Want to learn more about the types of medication used in our program? Visit What is Buprenorphine/Suboxone? page.

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    References

    Commonly Used Terms. CDC; January 2021. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/terms.html. Accessed November 16, 2021.

    Buprenorphine Therapy for Opioid Use Disorder. Houston, TX: AAFP; March 1, 2018. Available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/2018/0301/p313.html. Accessed November 16, 2021.

    Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. NIDA; July 2020. Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain. Accessed November 16, 2021.
    Opioid Overdose Crisis. NIDA; March 2021. Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis. Accessed November 16, 2021.

    Summary
    Must-Knows About Opioid Dependence
    Article Name
    Must-Knows About Opioid Dependence
    Description
    An article describing what is opioid dependence, how it develops, difference between addiction and dependence, and how to refer for treatment.
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    Publisher Name
    New Horizons Medical
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