In many painkiller addiction cases, the trigger may be chronic pain. In the U.S., there has been an increase in opioid and prescription drug abuse, with nearly eight out of 10 individuals abusing prescription drugs for the sole purpose of treating their chronic pain.
Corresponding author Dr. Daniel Alford said, “While the association between chronic pain and drug addiction has been observed in prior studies, this study goes one step further to quantify how many of these patients are using these substances specifically to treat chronic pain. It also measures the prevalence of chronic pain in patients who screen positive for illegal drug use and prescription drug abuse.”
The researchers screened nearly 25,000 patients for abuse of prescription medications and illegal drug use. Of the study group, 589 met the criteria for painkiller abuse. The participants were then asked about chronic pain and their use of drugs and alcohol. The researchers found that 87 percent reported chronic pain, and half of those reported severe pain.
Alford concluded, “Pain should be treated as part of the long-term strategy for recovery. If drugs are being used to self-medicate pain, patients may be reluctant to decrease, stop, or remain abstinent if their pain symptoms are not adequately managed with other treatments including non-medication-based treatments.”
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on Painkiller, heroin dependence combated with anti-addiction drugs.