“Opioid naive” is a term used to describe an individual who has not used opioids consistently in the past.
Opioid naive individuals may experience stronger effects of opioids and sometimes worse side effects of opioids because their bodies are not used to them. In contrast, patients who are “opioid experienced” often have more of a tolerance to opioids, both to their analgesic properties as well as to their side effects.
Tolerance is the ability to “tolerate” higher doses of opioids over time with fewer side effects because the body gets accustomed to the opioid medications. Most patients build a tolerance to many different medications the longer we take them, but this is particularly true with opioids.
Tolerance means that when we are used to taking a certain dose of an opioid to achieve a certain amount of euphoria or pain control, we may eventually need to take even higher doses to obtain the same effects. Increasing tolerance leads some individuals to take higher doses which can also put them at risk for opioid overdose.