Blog | Opiate Addiction

Opioid Drug Use and Myoclonus

Myoclonus is involuntary twitching in a muscle or group of muscles. It is not a disease, but it can be a symptom of a nervous system disorder or other physical health issue.

Some health concerns that can involve myoclonus include the following:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Low Blood Pressure

Myoclonus that isn’t a symptom of a preexisting disease or disorder may result from a reaction to a medication or to drug poisoning. The January 2011 issue of Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders points out that chronic alcohol abuse and alcohol withdrawal can cause myoclonus. Benzodiazepines, antidepressants, opioids and more may also cause myoclonus.1 Prescription medicines and painkillers can cause muscle twitching that may or may not be myoclonus. Any involuntary muscle movement should be discussed with a doctor. Addiction is a possible cause, but you don’t have to misuse opioids to experience related myoclonus.

Opioids and Myoclonus

Myoclonus is involuntary twitching in a muscle or group of muscles. It is not a disease itself, but may be a symptom of a nervous system disorder.The more of a drug you use and the longer you use it, the more likely side effects become. However, opioids can contribute to myoclonus even after brief or relatively small doses. The British Journal of Pain explains, “Myoclonus and hyperalgesia have both been reported to occur following a variety of doses, durations of treatment and routes of administration of various opioids.”2

Myoclonus isn’t an uncommon or unexpected side effect of opioid use or abuse. Treating this opioid-related form of myoclonus begins, and can often end, with ceasing opioid drug use.

When a person is using opioids to manage a chronic pain issue or pain related to cancer, he or she will have to explore alternative pain management options. If a person is struggling with opioid addiction, he or she will have to pursue an addiction treatment program. Addiction treatment and pain management can overlap, as many comprehensive programs include integrated physical, mental and addiction health care.

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Opioid Addiction Recovery

If you are using opioids despite experiencing negative side effects like myoclonus, reach out to Michael’s House. We can help you put an end to opioid abuse or addiction. We can help you put an end to the effects these drugs have on your health and your life. Our admissions coordinators are available any time of day to help you find your best options for recovery.

Our integrated treatment programs offer integrated care for all co-occurring physical and mental health concerns. All calls are free and confidential, so now is the time to learn more and take action. Call 760-548-4032 now.


1 Kojovic, Maja, et al. “Myoclonic Disorders: A Practical Approach for Diagnosis and Treatment.Therapeutic Advances in Neurological Disorders. Jan. 2011.

2 Woodward, Owen, et al. “Opioid-Induced Myoclonus and Hyperalgesia Following a Short Course of Low-Dose Oral Morphine.British Journal of Pain. Feb. 2017.