Risk of addiction to prescribed opioids

Not all patients exposed to reward-inducing psychoactive drugs will develop an addiction syndrome. Many patients using these drugs appropriately for pain relief will develop tolerance to one or more of the effects of the drug (including analgesia). They are also likely to develop physical dependence as manifest by withdrawal on dose tapering or cessation. However, the potential for pain-relieving medicines, particularly opioids to be used for purposes other than pain relief (by the patient or by others), and for the development of true addiction, remains a concern for prescribing physicians.

A number of questions need to be answered to inform the decision to prescribe or be prescribed opioids.

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