Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2018;97(5):online

See related article on buprenorphine therapy for opioid use disorder

What are opioids?

Opioids (OH-pee-oyds) are a type of drug. Doctors give these drugs to people to make pain go away. Some people become addicted to them.

What is opioid use disorder?

Opioid use disorder is when you cannot stop taking the drugs, even if you want to, or can't stop yourself from using more than your doctor prescribed. People with this problem may not feel well if they do not take the opioids. They may have stomachaches, diarrhea, and a fever. This is called withdrawal.

What can I do if I have opioid use disorder?

Your doctor can give you medicine to help you stop taking opioids. You also should stay away from other people who are addicted and from places where you can get the drugs. You can go to a counselor or support group to talk about your problem.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor

AAFP's Patient Information Resource

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Narcotics Anonymous

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Library of Medicine

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Opioid Treatment Program Directory

Continue Reading

More in AFP

More in PubMed

Copyright © 2018 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.