What is Precipitated Withdrawal Syndrome

Precipitated withdrawal syndrome refers to a sudden and severe form of withdrawal that can occur when an individual who is dependent on opioids suddenly stops using the drug or switches to a medication that has a lower affinity for the mu opioid receptors. Precipitated withdrawal can occur when an individual takes a medication, such as naloxone, rapidly displaces opioids from the mu-opioid receptors and causes a rapid and intense withdrawal syndrome.

Precipitated withdrawal symptoms can include severe pain, agitation, muscle cramping, sweating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Precipitated withdrawal can be life-threatening, particularly in individuals with underlying medical conditions, and requires immediate medical attention. To prevent precipitated withdrawal, it is important to carefully manage the dose and administration of medications used to treat opioid dependence, such as buprenorphine and methadone, under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

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