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Eur J Pain. 2009 Jul;13(6):606-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2008.07.006. Epub 2008 Sep 5.

Alcohol and smoking behavior in chronic pain patients: the role of opioids.

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National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark.


The primary aim of this epidemiological study was to investigate associations between chronic non-cancer pain with or without opioid treatment and the alcohol and smoking behavior. The secondary aims were to investigate self-reported quality of life, sleeping problems, oral health and the use of different health care providers. The Danish health survey of 2005 was based on a region-stratified random sample of 10.916 individuals. Data were collected via personal interviews and self-administrated questionnaires. Respondents suffering from chronic pain were identified through the question 'Do you have chronic/long-lasting pain lasting 6 months or more?' The question concerning alcohol intake assessed the frequency of alcohol intake and binge drinking. Smoking behavior assessed the daily number of cigarettes. Individuals reporting chronic pain were stratified into two groups (opioid users and non-opioid users). In all, 7275 individuals completed a personal interview and 5552 individuals completed and returned the self-administrated questionnaire. Responders with a self-reported earlier or present cancer diagnosis were excluded from the study. Hence, the final study population consisted of 5292 individuals. We found, that individuals suffering from chronic pain were less likely to drink alcohol. In opioid users alcohol consumption was further reduced. Cigarette smoking was significantly increased in individuals suffering from chronic pain and in opioid users smoking was further increased. Poor oral health, quality of life and sleep were markedly associated with chronic pain and opioid use. The use of opioids was associated with significantly more contacts to healthcare care providers.

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