Illicit opioid use after loss of access to opioids for pain

Illicit opioid use following changes in opioids prescribed for chronic non-cancer pain. PLOS ONE. May 4, 2020.

Here’s a finally a study showing the potentially hazardous actions taken by pain patients when their pain relief is cut off. I’m surprised they found the same thing with increasing the dose – if anyone can think of an explanation, please let me know.

In a retrospective study of more than 600 patients in San Francisco receiving opioid pain relievers (OPR) for chronic, non-cancer pain, the researchers found that

  • [l]oss of access to prescribed OPRs was associated with more frequent use of non-prescribed opioids and heroin, and
  • increased OPR dose was associated with more frequent heroin use.

In addition to being cautious with increasing OPR dose, care providers should consider the potential unintended consequences of stopping OPR therapy when developing opioid prescribing guidelines and managing practice.

1 thought on “Illicit opioid use after loss of access to opioids for pain

  1. canarensis

    I keep flashing back to the facts of Prohibition…when they tried to legislate away alcohol use & abuse. They deliberately added methanol to the many various substances that had to have alcohol (sterno, industrial alcohol, etc). The guvmint knew that it was poisoning people & unknown thousands died, but they kept doing it as a “deterrent” (they claimed). My theory is, they figured the more “bums” or “wetbrains” they took out, the better for the country. Just like today’s “they” know damned well that CPPs in intolerable pain will turn to other, deadlier substances or just outright kill themselves. We are, after all, useless parasites on society, dontcha know.

    That little conspiracy theory aside, I am also puzzled (& annoyed*) by the “increased dose = increased use of heroin,” unless there’s just a higher percentage of those getting increased doses (how??) who are using it recreationally & turn to heroin for a further high, or those who need increasing doses are in such inconceivable pain that even the higher dose doesn’t adequately deal with it….or a combo of both.

    *we don’t need anythng to make us look worse in the eyes of the Church of Opioiphobia.

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