Diagnostic Criteria

Either tolerance or withdrawal:

  • Tolerance: need for markedly increased amounts of opioid to achieve the desired effect, or markedly diminished effect with regular use of the same amount.
  • Withdrawal: development of Opioid Withdrawal after cessation of or reduction in substance use.


For more information, see Substance Dependence

Most individuals with Opioid Dependence have significant levels of tolerance and will experience withdrawal on abrupt discontinuation of opioid substances. Opioid Dependence includes signs and symptoms that reflect compulsive, prolonged self-administration of opioid substances that are used for no legitimate medical purpose or, if a general medical condition is present that requires opioid treatment, that are used in doses that are greatly in excess of the amount needed for pain relief. Persons with Opioid Dependence tend to develop such regular patterns of compulsive drug use that daily activities are typically planned around obtaining and administering opioids. Opioids are usually purchased on the illegal market, but may also be obtained from physicians by faking or exaggerating general medical problems or by receiving simultaneous prescriptions from several physicians. Health care professionals with Opioid Dependence will often obtain opioids by writing prescriptions for themselves or by diverting opioids that have been prescribed for patients or from pharmacy supplies.


The following specifiers may be applied to a diagnosis of Opioid Dependence:

  • With Physiological Dependence
  • Without Physiological Dependence
  • Early Full Remission
  • Early Partial Remission
  • Sustained Full Remission
  • Sustained Partial Remission
  • On Agonist Therapy
  • In a Controlled Environment


See Opioid Use Disorder

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