51% of Americans prescribed opioids suffer from psychological disorders

Barsaba Taglieri
Giugno 27, 2017

Individuals with mental health disorders represent 16% of the population, and the researchers noted that improving pain management among this population is essential to reducing national dependency on opioids.

To arrive at the results, researchers partly used a government survey for 2011 and 2013 in which patients described their health conditions and medication use.

While the researchers couldn't pinpoint the exact reason for the discrepancy, senior study author Brian Sites, MD, an anesthesiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, told STAT patients with mood disorders may communicate their experience with pain differently to physicians.

Researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and the University of MI found that one-fifth of an estimated 38.6 million people with anxiety and depression received at least two prescriptions for opioids over a year.

For Dr. Mark Edlund, a senior public health analyst at RTI International who was not involved in the study, the findings add to a growing and worrisome body of evidence that people with mental-health disorders who are at increased risk of abusing opioids are also more likely to receive opioid prescriptions.

The study says 51.4 percent of 115 million opioid prescriptions written annually were given to people of that group. "We know that this is a vulnerable population in respect to the opioid-related side effects, such as overdose, addiction and long-term use".

Sites added that physicians need viable alternatives for treating pain, including cognitive behavioral therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, physical therapy, and massage.

Dr. Sites says more research is also needed for non-opioid based pharmaceuticals that are as effective and safer.

The report will be published online in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine on July 5.

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