How can I prevent opioid medication withdrawal symptoms?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Medications for opioid addiction help prevent or ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Although sometimes criticized as "replacing one addiction with another," these medications can restore normalcy to people's lives and enhance their motivation to change.

Methadone is the best-known and most frequently used medication for treating opioid dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone binds to the same opioid brain receptors to which heroin, morphine, and prescription (synthetic) opioids bind. Compared with opioids of abuse, methadone remains attached to the receptor and continues to exert its effects for much longer. A single dose of methadone can ease or prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms and alleviate cravings for 24 to 36 hours.
Travis M. Hendry, MD
Orthopedic Surgery

To avoid opioid medication (strong medications that affect the way your brain handles pain signals) withdrawal symptoms:

  • Do not stop taking opioid medication suddenly. Keep track of your medication so you don't run out without warning.
  • When it's time to stop taking the medication, your doctor will help you taper off your dosage gradually.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.