Increased Use of Opioids for Chronic Pain in Patients with Mental-Health and Substance-Use Disorders
As the use of opioids to treat noncancer chronic pain has risen, there has been a concurrent increase in the abuse of these drugs. Individuals with mental-health (MH) or substance-use disorders (SUD) may be particularly vulnerable to opioid misuse. In this study, investigators analyzed Arkansas Medicaid and commercial-insurance databases from 2000 and 2005 to assess changes in opioid prescribing to patients with noncancer pain conditions (NCPC) and to determine whether such changes were associated with MH and SUD.
- In 2005, Medicaid enrollees were more likely to have an NCPC diagnosis than commercial insurance enrollees (34% versus 24%, respectively) and were more likely to have received at least 1 opioid prescription (63% versus 35%, respectively).
- In the 2 cohorts combined, the percentage of patients with NCPC who received an opioid prescription increased from 30% to 37% between 2000 and 2005; the percentage who received a >90-day supply increased from 4.2% to 5.6%.
- The percentage of enrollees with an MH and/or SUD diagnosis increased by almost 50% in both cohorts.
- Those with an MH and/or SUD diagnosis were more likely to have received an opioid prescription and to have received a >90-day supply.