Psychiatric Problems Linked To Long-Term Opioid Use

By Anne Dominguez , Dec 30, 2016 12:22 PM EST

The use of psychoactive drugs due to existing psychiatric problems was linked to use of long-term opioid medication. A new study suggests that individuals who takes meds for various psychiatric conditions have high risks of taking opioid for pain relief.

Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication which are prescribed for severe pains. If not regulated properly, it may cause constipation, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting. It is also dangerous to take it with some types of antidepressants. Prolonged use of opioid meds can result to tolerance, or sometimes even addiction and withdrawal.

In a study published in PAIN, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), researchers gathered data from 10.3 million patients who claims using opioid. They tracked the common predictors that led to long-term opioid use in patients who had been taking opioid medications from 2004 to 2013.

"We found that pre-existing psychiatric and behavioral conditions and psychoactive medications were associated with subsequent claims for prescription opioids," the researchers said according to Science Daily. They added that the link is stronger for long-term opioid users.

Among the patients, only 1.7 percent were prescribed with long term opioid therapy. However, it was revealed that patients with prior psychiatric problems, suicide attempts or other self-injury have a higher risk of transitioning from situational opioid prescription to long-term opioid medications than patients without previous psychiatric conditions.

For patients with previous suicide attempts, the risk of long-term opioid use is 2.55 higher compared to those without. Those with preexisting non-opioid substance use disorders (SUDs) has 3.15 times higher risk while those with opioid use disorders (OUDs) have 8.70 times the risk.

The researchers added that the study is evidence for the association of long-term opioid treatment for behavioral and psychiatric problems. They suggest thorough mental health assessment and intervention to be considered in long-term use of opioid therapy.

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