Opioid use disorder is a complex disorder characterized by obsessive use of opioid drugs even when the individual wishes to stop or when the drugs have a negative impact on the person’s physical and psychological well-being.

While opioids can be given by a physician to treat pain, the use of either legally prescribed or illegal opioid drugs may result in an opioid use disorder. In the US, opioid use is a public health emergency. Overdoses killed over 800,000 Americans between 1999 and 2020. Rising rates of drug addiction have contributed significantly to recent declines in life expectancy in the United States.


The following symptoms are associated with opioid use:

  • Excessive, Frequent, Unhealthy, or Dangerous Use

An individual with opioid use disorder finds it difficult to control their opioid use, and the behaviors linked with obtaining and using opioids become increasingly intrusive in their daily lives.

  • Dependence

This is a physiological shift that takes place when a substance is used. When a person discontinues using the drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms, including sweating.

  • Cravings

Despite being aware of the potential consequences to one’s well-being, these are overwhelming emotional and physical urges to use the drug.

Other symptoms of an opioid use disorder include:

Someone suffering from an opioid use may not exhibit symptoms right away. Some signs that the person requires assistance may emerge over time, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of weight
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Reduced libido
  • Inadequate hygiene
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Stealing from family or friends
  • New financial problems


When opioid use disorder is suspected, a comprehensive evaluation is required, which may incorporate acquiring the results of urine drug testing and prescription medication monitoring program reports.

It’s also crucial to remember that opioid use is a spectrum disorder. Therefore, a severity scale based on the number of requirements met exists.


Opioid use disorder is a complicated disease, and treatment is most effective when it is tailored to the individual. There is no single method that works well for all, and a person may try several therapies before discovering those that promote long-term recovery.

Treatment for opioid is accessible from medical professionals and can be delivered as an outpatient service or in a residential setting, including a rehabilitation center. In any of these scenarios, treatment may consist of the administration of medications as well as support programs to assist people in recovering.

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