What is Opioid Use Disorder?

Opioid use disorder carries many misconceptions.

Understanding opioid use disorder

Using opioids can lead to opioid use disorder, which was once commonly called opioid addiction. The U.S. government has estimated that 2.7 million people have opioid use disorder (OUD). More than 11 million people have misused prescription opioids in their lifetime. Opioid use disorder is a chronic disease and should be treated as such.

Many individuals with OUD, including those currently using heroin or other illegal opioids, started using opioids with a doctor’s prescription. As a result, their lives and the lives of their loved ones have been greatly affected by this disorder.

Naloxone can help

Someone with OUD has a much greater chance of dying from an opioid overdose. If you have this disorder or know someone who does, you should know about naloxone. You can learn more by following this link:

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What else should I know?

Everyone who has a substance use disorder such as OUD has their own story, but if you or someone in your family has one, know that you’re not alone.

If you are dealing with OUD, or think you are, there’s hope—you can manage and treat your illness and enter recovery. If you think someone you love might have OUD and you would like to support them, there are resources that can help you talk to that loved one or help them seek treatment.

OUD is a medical condition that can be treated with medication and therapy.

Does naloxone treat OUD?

Naloxone doesn’t cure opioid use disorder, and equally doesn’t enable continued use – it saves someone who is dying, giving them the chance to enter treatment or recovery when they are ready to stop using opioids.

It’s not always easy to talk about opioids and overdoses. But to bring awareness to the problem and reduce the number of deaths, it is important to have conversations about opioids, overdoses, and how to keep people alive.

Naloxone is safe and easy to use. Learn more about it, how to get it, and how to use it on this website.

Resources about opioid use disorder and treatment

The U.S. government has developed informative resources about OUD. They describe the science behind the disorder, discuss evidence-based treatments, and can help you or your family understand your condition and take the first step toward recovery. Use the links below to get started.

If you live in Colorado, the Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health has information about Colorado’s response to the opioid crisis and links to treatment programs. OBH and the nonprofit Mental Health Colorado also have reliable resources for you, including the Mental Wellness and Addiction Recovery Guide.

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