New York—What is the relationship between pain level and the risk of developing opioid-use disorder? A new study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and touted as the first to answer this question, finds that patients with moderate or more severe pain had a 41% higher risk of developing prescription opioid–use disorders than those without, independent of other demographic and clinical factors. For the Columbia University Medical Center–led study, researchers analyzed data from a national survey of alcohol and substance use in more than 34,000 adults. At two points 3 years apart, they examined pain—measured on a five-point scale of pain-related interference in daily activities—as well as prescription opioid–use disorders, and other variables such as age; gender; anxiety or mood disorders; and family history of drug, alcohol, and behavioral problems. Males and younger adults were found to be at increased risk of prescription opioid–use disorders. In addition, study authors report that females and older adults were more likely to report pain.

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