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Opioid use disorder

Opioid use disorder is a serious chronic disease. It usually requires lifelong treatment, in which physical, psychological, and social aspects must be taken into account in equal measure.

“Effective long-term treatment of opioid dependence often requires multiple treatment episodes and combinations of responses. Harm reduction interventions, mental health and other services, addressing co-occurring mental and physical health problems, will also be important,” is how the German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) defines the associated form of therapy. There is international consensus on the benefits of substitution treatment.1

1 European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. Best Practice, policy and practice briefings: Tackling opioid dependence.  (accessed: 08.02.2021)


Opioid addiction

Opioid addiction is a complex disease that requires a long-term treatment in most cases. Opioids are substances that exert their effects via the so-called opioid receptors in the body.


A distinction is made between:

Endogenous opioids

These are the body’s own opioids; they are produced by the body itself and fulfil a physiological function.

Exogenous opioids

These are opioids supplied from outside (due to therapeutic necessity or abuse in the context of addiction). Exogenous opioids include, for example, methadone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, diacetylmorphine (heroin, the most addictive opioid), buprenorphine and morphine.

31.000 to 37.000 people in Austria suffer from high-risk opioid use - mostly in the form of mixed use.
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