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Objective

Little evidence is available on the occurrence of mania following opioid withdrawal. This is the first report on clinical and demographic characteristics of mania precipitated by opioid withdrawal in a relatively large sample.

Method

In this study, we assessed the files of the patients admitted to a large referral psychiatric hospital during a 3-year period with a presentation of manic episode shortly after opioid withdrawal. Forty-five relevant cases (one woman) were found, including 28 patients with their first manic episode, and 17 patients with a previous history of bipolar disorder.

Results

Most of the identified cases had a long history (mean = 11.8 years) of opium dependence (24 cases used only opium and 16 cases opium and other opioids) and had recently experienced an intense withdrawal (25 cases). These associations were present in both first-episode patients and those with recurrent episodes.

Conclusion

Emergence of mania following opioid withdrawal could be partly explained by mood stabilizing effects of opioids. Other than the type of opioid, it seems that the duration of use and withdrawal method might play a role. Caution should be used while detoxifying patients with a long history of opioid use. (Am J Addict 2013;22:338–343)