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Pain, alcohol use disorders and risky patterns of drinking among people with chronic non-cancer pain receiving long-term opioid therapy


Larance, B and Campbell, G and Peacock, A and Nielsen, S and Bruno, R and Hall, W and Lintzeris, N and Cohen, M and Degenhardt, L, Pain, alcohol use disorders and risky patterns of drinking among people with chronic non-cancer pain receiving long-term opioid therapy, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 162 pp. 79-87. ISSN 0376-8716 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2016.02.048


Background: The utilisation of pharmaceutical opioids has increased internationally, and there is evidence of increasing risky alcohol consumption with ageing. This study examines the patterns and correlates of risky drinking among people with chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) prescribed opioids, and the associations between alcohol consumption and pain.

Methods: The Pain and Opioids IN Treatment cohort comprises 1514 people in Australia prescribed pharmaceutical opioids for CNCP. Participants reported lifetime, past year and past month alcohol use, as well as mental and physical health, other substance use, pain characteristics, and current opioid dose.

Results: Less than one-tenth of the sample were ‘lifetime abstainers’ (7%); 34% were ‘former drinkers’; 34% were ‘non-risky drinkers’ (i.e., past 12 month use ≤4 standard drinks); 16% were ‘occasional risky drinkers’; and 8% were ‘regular risky drinkers’ (i.e., ≥ weekly use of > 4 standard drinks). Males reported greater levels of alcohol use, and a third (33%) of the total sample reported a lifetime alcohol use disorder. Controlling for demographics, mental health, physical health and substance use disorder history, ‘former drinkers’ (cf. ‘non-risky drinkers’) reported higher pain severity and interference ratings, and lower pain coping. ‘Occasional risky drinkers’ and ‘regular risky drinkers’ (cf. ‘non-risky drinkers’) reported higher levels of pain interference.

Conclusions: Among people with CNCP,those who abstained from alcohol or drank at risky levels reported poorer pain outcomes compared with moderate drinkers. Early identification and intervention for risky drinking among people is critical, particularly given the risks associated with co-administration of alcohol and opioids.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:pain, alcohol use disorder, opioid, drinking, chronic pain
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Other psychology
Research Field:Other 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:Peacock, A (Miss Amy Peacock)
UTAS Author:Bruno, R (Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno)
ID Code:112892
Year Published:2016
Funding Support:National Health and Medical Research Council (APP1022522)
Web of Science® Times Cited:30
Deposited By:Psychology
Deposited On:2016-12-02
Last Modified:2018-12-07

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