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Pharmaceutical opioid use and dependence among people living with chronic pain: associations observed within the Pain and Opioids in Treatment (POINT) Cohort


Campbell, G and Nielsen, S and Larance, B and Bruno, R and Mattick, R and Hall, W and Lintzeris, N and Cohen, M and Smith, K and Degenhardt, L, Pharmaceutical opioid use and dependence among people living with chronic pain: associations observed within the Pain and Opioids in Treatment (POINT) Cohort, Pain Medicine, 16, (9) pp. 1745-1758. ISSN 1526-4637 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 American Academy of Pain Medicine

DOI: doi:10.1111/pme.12773


Objective: There is increasing concern about the appropriateness of prescribing pharmaceutical opioids for chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP), given the risks of problematic use and dependence. This article examines pharmaceutical opioid dose and dependence and examines the correlates of each.

Design: Baseline data were obtained from a national sample of 1,424 people across Australia (median 58 years, 55% female and experiencing pain for a median of 10 years), who had been prescribed opioids for CNCP. Current opioid consumption was estimated in oral morphine equivalent (OME; mg per day), and ICD-10 pharmaceutical opioid dependence was assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview.

Results: Current opioid consumption varied widely: 8.8% were taking <20 mg OME per day, 52.1% were taking 21-90 mg OME, 24.3% were taking 91-199 mg OME, and 14.8% were taking >= 200 mg OME. Greater daily OME consumption was associated with higher odds of multiple physical and mental health issues, aberrant opioid use, problems associated with opioid medication and opioid dependence. A significant minority, 8.5%, met criteria for lifetime ICD-10 pharmaceutical opioid dependence and 4.7% met criteria for past year ICD-10 pharmaceutical opioid dependence. Multivariate analysis found past-year dependence was independently associated with being younger, exhibiting more aberrant behaviors and having a history of benzodiazepine dependence.

Conclusions: In this population of people taking opioids for CNCP, consumption of higher doses was associated with increased risk of problematic behaviors, and was more likely among people with a complex profile of physical and mental health problems.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:opioids, chronic pain, dependence
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Applied and developmental psychology
Research Field:Applied and developmental psychology not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Bruno, R (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:101837
Year Published:2015
Funding Support:National Health and Medical Research Council (APP1022522)
Web of Science® Times Cited:64
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2015-07-12
Last Modified:2017-11-07

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