Adults 50+ More Likely to Misuse Opioids for Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Ty S. Schepis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Psychology
Texas State University

 Ty S. Schepis, Ph.D.
 Associate Professor
 Department of Psychology
 Texas State University

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: We were interested in examining the underlying reasons for prescription opioid misuse both across the population and in older adults specifically. Given that pain conditions and physical health limitations increase with aging, we wondered if different age groups would display different patterns of motives. Indeed, they did. Adults 50 and older were particularly likely to misuse opioid medication only for pain relief reasons (over 80%); in contrast, roughly 65% of young adults (18-25 years) endorsed only non-pain relief motives for misuse.

For older adults, opioid misuse involving any non-pain relief motives was associated with a greater rate of also having another substance use disorder and past-year suicidal thoughts.

Pain Medication Beliefs Can Enhance (or Impair) Pain Relief

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Leon Timmerman, PhD
St Antonius Hospital, Department of Anesthesiology
Intensive Care and Pain Medicine
The Netherlands

Leon Timmerman, PhD St Antonius Hospital, Department of Anesthesiology Intensive Care and Pain Medicine The Netherlands
Dr. Timmerman

PainRelief.com:  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: Chronic pain is commonly treated with pain medication. However, the results of pharmacological treatment are often poor. One of the reasons might be that half of the patients do not use their medication as prescribed. Underuse as well as overuse are common and have been described to result in reduced treatment effect, health care risks and unnecessary treatment changes. The are many risks factors described for non-adherent behavior.

The way people think about their pain medication have been shown to be related to the way they use their medication. With this study, we confirmed this relation with a prospective study. Baseline beliefs about pain medication, measured by ‘Pain Medication Attitudes Questionnaire’,  were found to be related to underuse of pain medication, the occurrence of side effects and patient satisfaction after three months.  

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National Trends in Prescription Opioid Risk Reduction Practices

PainRelief.com Interview with:
Daniel P. Alford, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine
Associate Dean, Continuing Medical Education
Director, Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit
Director, Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE of Pain) Program
Boston University School of Medicine
Boston Medical Center, Boston MA 02118

PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Boston University School of Medicine’s Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE of Pain) is the longest-running safer opioid prescribing educational program under the FDA’s opioid Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). 

This study analyzed clinicians’, who were registering to attend a SCOPE of Pain training, self-report of performing five opioid prescribing risk-mitigation practices with patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain including:

  1. Use of patient-prescriber agreements,

2) Informing patients about taking opioids exactly as prescribed,

3) Discussing safe opioid storage and disposal,

4) Discussing risks of opioid-associated respiratory depression and overdose, and

5) Monitoring for misuse including urine drug test and/or pill counts, prior to participating in the training.

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