Opioid abuse in the United States has reached overwhelming levels in recent years, leading for demands for federal intervention, new legislation, and changes in pharmaceutical regulations. Unfortunately, while these actions can help save thousands of lives, it has an unfortunate side effect: those who suffer from chronic pain find it difficult to manage their symptoms while jumping through all the loopholes.
While we struggle to find a compromise between the two, new studies have determined the most vulnerable populations to opioid abuse are the elderly and women.
While the study in question does recognize that the men represent the largest portion of people suffering from substance abuse disorders, it found that women and the elderly who experienced opioid addiction most often cited chronic pain as the cause.
Conducted by Columbia University Medical Center researchers, this study included 34,000 adults and focused on how variables such as age, gender, mental health disorders, and family history influence those with opioid abuse disorders.
Organized into two surveys three years apart, the results determined that “adults who reported moderate or severe pain are at increased risk of becoming addicted to prescription opioids,” as explained by Columbia University Medical Center professor Mark Olfson.
Other commonalities include mood and anxiety disorders and family history of alcohol abuse.
Because of these results, medical professionals are being warned to be cautious when prescribing opioid medications. Paying attention to factors such as age, gender, and familial history of substance abuse when determining what medications one should be prescribed is key to helping end the opioid abuse epidemic.