Recognition and management of iatrogenically induced opioid dependence and withdrawal in children

Pediatrics. 2014 Jan;133(1):152-5. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3398. Epub 2013 Dec 30.


Opioids are often prescribed to children for pain relief related to procedures, acute injuries, and chronic conditions. Round-the-clock dosing of opioids can produce opioid dependence within 5 days. According to a 2001 Consensus Paper from the American Academy of Pain Medicine, American Pain Society, and American Society of Addiction Medicine, dependence is defined as "a state of adaptation that is manifested by a drug class specific withdrawal syndrome that can be produced by abrupt cessation, rapid dose reduction, decreasing blood level of the drug, and/or administration of an antagonist." Although the experience of many children undergoing iatrogenically induced withdrawal may be mild or goes unreported, there is currently no guidance for recognition or management of withdrawal for this population. Guidance on this subject is available only for adults and primarily for adults with substance use disorders. The guideline will summarize existing literature and provide readers with information currently not available in any single source specific for this vulnerable pediatric population.

Keywords: analgesia; dependence; opioids; sedation; withdrawal.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease* / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / etiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / etiology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome* / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid