Predictors Of Long-term Opioid Use For Back Pain

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Long-term prescription opioid use for back pain is on the rise, despite limited evidence for success as a treatment method. A new study suggests that a history of substance abuse may be a predictor of long-term opioid use.

The Study

Participants in the study suffered from chronic back pain caused by lumbar spine conditions. 42% reported using opioids for their back pain, with a third of participants taking opioids every day.

Interestingly, the researchers found that pain severity was not a predictor of long-term opioid use. However, nonsurgical treatment and smoking were both found to be independent predictors.

What Does This Mean?

Further research is needed to determine whether substance abuse is a predictor of long-term opioid use, as substance abuse disorders in general were not evaluated in the study. However, the authors noted that the strong link between smoking and long-term opioid use may indicate that alcohol or drug use could also be predictors of long-term opioid use.

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