Are prescription opioids addictive?

Yes, prescription opioids can be addictive. People who misuse prescription opioids are at greater risk of becoming addicted to opioids than people who take them as prescribed by a doctor. They often continue to take the drug simply to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid withdrawal can cause:

  • restlessness
  • muscle and bone pain
  • sleep problems
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting (throwing up)
  • cold flashes with goosebumps (“cold turkey”)
  • leg movements

Doctors, dentists and other health care providers who prescribe opioids know how to weigh the risks of opioid dependence and addiction against the benefits of the medication.  Patients should communicate any issues or concerns to their doctor as soon as they arise. The earlier a problem is identified, the better the chances are for long term recovery. Learn more about dentists and prescription opioid medications.

These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and are the reason many people find it difficult to stop using opioids. There are medicines being developed to help with the withdrawal process. The FDA approved lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.