Men & Women Abuse Painkillers For Different Reasons

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A new study has found that male and female patients abuse opioid painkillers at about the same rate, but have differing risk factors for drug misuse.

The Study

The study examined a group of 662 patients who took opioid painkillers for chronic pain not associated with cancer. Opioid drugs include morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone. Researchers looked at rates and characteristics of abuse, profiles of risk factors for abuse, and the strength of certain risk factors' ability to predict abuse.

While the rate of abuse was similar among men and women, gender differences were found when it came to risk factors for painkiller abuse. Risk factors for men tended to be social and behavioral problems, while emotional and psychological distress were found to be risk factors for women.

Why Is This Important?

Knowing the risk factors for potential prescription drug abuse is a key way to prevent the drug misuse before it starts, or to stop it before it gets out of control. This study shows that just because men and women appear to be equally likely to abuse narcotics doesn't mean the same treatments will work to prevent or treat the abuse. Women on opioid drugs should be alert for signs of stress and emotional issues that could lead to drug abuse, while men need to be aware of behavioral problems that put them at risk. Know what risk factors to look for in yourself and others may help avoid serious addiction issues in the future.

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