Opiate withdrawal

Addiction. 1994 Nov;89(11):1471-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.1994.tb03745.x.


Opiate withdrawal is one of the longest studied and most well described withdrawal syndromes. Opiate withdrawal has been described as akin to a moderate to severe flu-like illness. Opiate withdrawal is appropriately described as subjectively severe but objectively mild. This paper describes the mechanisms of opiate dependence and opiate withdrawal and reviews the available instruments for the measurement of withdrawal. The time course of assisted and unassisted withdrawal is described and the range of options for the management of assisted withdrawal are described. This review concludes that the most effective and least time- and resource-consuming approach to opiate withdrawal will substantially contribute to the overall social management of opiate dependence.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiopathology
  • Conditioning, Classical / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Methadone / adverse effects
  • Methadone / therapeutic use
  • Motivation
  • Naloxone / adverse effects
  • Naloxone / therapeutic use
  • Narcotic Antagonists / adverse effects
  • Narcotic Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Receptors, Opioid / drug effects
  • Receptors, Opioid / physiology
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology


  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Naloxone
  • Methadone