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Emergency Medical Minute


Jul 23, 2018

Author: Don Stader, MD.

Educational Pearls:


  • A baby can be born dependent on opioids but not addicted to them.
  • Opioid addiction (Opioid Use Disorder) is a disease of mature brains and is characterized by compulsive drug use despite adverse consequences.
  • Opioid addiction is a disease that affects the reward center of the brain
  • Pregnant patients struggling with addiction do better when started on buprenorphine or methadone. This treatment will cause opioid withdrawal syndrome in newborns, but not the long term morbidity and mortality of illicit opioids.



Gowing L, Farrell MF, Bornemann R, Sullivan LE, Ali R. Oral substitution treatment of injecting opioid users for prevention of HIV infection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 8: CD004145. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004145.pub4.

Volkow ND, Koob GF, McLellan AT ( 2016). "Neurobiologic Advances from the Brain Disease Model of Addiction." New England Journal of Medicine. 374 (4): 363–371.