Opioid Abusers Share a Common Risk Factor

Reporting the results of a nationwide study, researchers from the University of Georgia School of Social Work have identified a common factor that greatly increases the likelihood of prescription drug misuse. Regardless of age or other sociodemographic characteristic, people with a history of illicit substance use, such as marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, are all at substantially higher risk for prescription pain reliever abuse. The findings provide support for conclusions reached recently in a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control that heroin use correlated positively with cocaine or opioid medication abuse. The findings, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, may help healthcare providers and others curb painkiller misuse.

The report is based on more than 13,000 responses to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the annual survey collects data on the use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription drugs, and mental health problems among individuals aged 12 and older. In addition to the positive correlation between opioid abuse and illicit substance behavior, the researchers found that older adults were more likely to source pain relievers through the practice of “doctor shopping” vs younger respondents who were more likely to acquire them from friends, relatives, or drug dealers. Commenting on this finding, lead author Orion Mowbray, PhD, said “If we know how people come to possess the pain relievers they misuse, we can design better ways to lower that likelihood. This study gives us the knowledge we need to substantially reduce the opportunities for misuse.”

Painweek.org has many articles about opioid risk. Click here for a list.

Read a news story on the findings, with link to the study report, here.

 

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