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Addiction

Updated 06 May 2013

Opioid Dependence – is something we should all know about

Opioid dependence is a real medical condition. It can happen to anyone - it is estimated that between 26.3 and 36.1 million people are dependent on opioids worldwide and yet it’s a form of drug dependency not spoken about often enough.

Opioid dependence is a real medical condition. It can happen to anyone - it is estimated that between 26.3 and 36.1 million people are dependent on opioids worldwide and yet it’s a form of drug dependency not spoken about often enough.

“For people with severe pain, opioids are very effective medicines, and many patients treated for pain with opioids do not become addicted. For some people, however, opioid dependence is an unexpected consequence of proper pain treatment. The problem comes when someone is unable to stop using the drug after the pain passes,” says Dr Volker Hitzeroth, President of the South African Addiction Medicine Society (SAAMS).

  • It can be successfully managed
  • A combination of medication and behavioural changes may help manage the disease
  •  Opioid dependence has a genetic basis and can be hereditary
  • Symptoms can fluctuate over time with periods of being asymptomatic

  • Drug tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  •  Use of the drug in larger quantities or for longer periods than required for medical necessity
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to decrease or discontinue
  • Significant time spent obtaining the substance or recovering from its effect
  • Drug use to avoid withdrawal
  • Foregoing important activities, or willingness to accept severe physical, social or professional negative consequences, due to drug use

 

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