Dr. Danesh Alam: August 30, 2018


Learn the Latest Statistics and How the Medical Community is Working to Address Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

September is National Recovery Month, Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)



Health System Clinician of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern

Every day, more than 115 Americans die after overdosing on opioids. One of the most powerful factors driving opioid dependence and addictive behaviors is opioid withdrawal. In fact, in a survey of people with chronic pain, 57% of patients reported avoidance of withdrawal as the primary reason for continued use of prescription opioids.


·         Opioids killed more people (42,000) in 2016 than car crashes (about 37,400), guns (about 38,000) or breast cancer (about 40,000).

·         According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 11.5 million people misused opioids, including prescription pain relievers and heroin.

·         Opioid withdrawal is an often-overlooked medical challenge. Ineffective management of the agonizing symptoms of withdrawal can drive people to abandon their recovery attempts.

·         The phrase “cold turkey” originated from the fact that withdrawal chills can cause such intense goose bumps that human skin can look like that of a raw turkey. “Kick the habit” refers to violent leg thrashing and uncontrollable movements.


Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome (OWS) results from a norepinephrine surge in the brain. The physical consequences of opioid withdrawal have been described as sheer agony. Symptoms include aches/pains, muscle spasms/twitching, stomach cramps, muscular tension, heart pounding, insomnia/problems sleeping and feeling sick. Many people have such difficulty tolerating these symptoms that the desire to avoid them can perpetuate opioid use.

On August 30, Dr. Danesh Alam, a board-certified psychiatrist with over 20 years of experience treating addiction and related conditions, will be available for interviews to discuss the challenge of opioid withdrawal in the current crisis. He will explain the physical symptoms of OWS, why it is so common for those in recovery to relapse, and how addressing the symptoms of withdrawal may be the key to lowering physical dependence and Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).


For more information please visit:





More About Dr. Alam:

Danesh Alam, MD, is a Medical Director at the Northwestern Medicine Central Dupage Hospital. He is also an Adjunct Asst. Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has been a Principal Investigator in over 25 research studies. He was involved in the studies that led to the FDA approval of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for depression. He has been funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse. He has coauthored several publications in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Alam is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is the Past President of the Illinois Society of Addiction Medicine and the Illinois Psychiatric Society. Dr. Alam completed his training in Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He completed a fellowship in psychopharmacology and research from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology and the American Board of Preventive Medicine, Addiction Medicine.




1.     CDC/NCHS, National Vital Statistics System, Mortality. CDC Wonder, Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2017. https://wonder.cdc.gov.

2.     Ahmad FB, Bastian B. Quarterly provisional estimates for selected indicators of mortality, 2016-Quarter 2, 2017. National Vital Statistics System, Vital Statistics Rapid Release Program. 2017. National Center for Health Statistics.

3.     HHS. The opioid epidemic by the numbers. https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/sites/default/files/2018-01/opioids-infographic.pdf.


Produced for: US WorldMeds

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