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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010 Nov 1;112(1-2):90-8. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.05.017. Epub 2010 Jul 14.

Risks for opioid abuse and dependence among recipients of chronic opioid therapy: results from the TROUP study.

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  • 1Division of Health Services Research, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR 72205, USA.



To estimate the prevalence of and risk factors for opioid abuse/dependence in long-term users of opioids for chronic pain, including risk factors for opioid abuse/dependence that can potentially be modified to decrease the likelihood of opioid abuse/dependence, and non-modifiable risk factors for opioid abuse/dependence that may be useful for risk stratification when considering prescribing opioids.


We used claims data from two disparate populations, one national, commercially insured population (HealthCore) and one state-based, publicly insured (Arkansas Medicaid). Among users of chronic opioid therapy, we regressed claims-based diagnoses of opioid abuse/dependence on patient characteristics, including physical health, mental health and substance abuse diagnoses, sociodemographic factors, and pharmacological risk factors.


Among users of chronic opioid therapy, 3% of both the HealthCore and Arkansas Medicaid samples had a claims-based opioid abuse/dependence diagnosis. There was a strong inverse relationship between age and a diagnosis of opioid abuse/dependence. Mental health and substance use disorders were associated with an increased risk of opioid abuse/dependence. Effects of substance use disorders were especially strong, although mental health disorders were more common. Concerning opioid exposure; lower days supply, lower average doses, and use of Schedule III-IV opioids only, were all associated with lower likelihood of a diagnosis of opioid abuse/dependence.


Opioid abuse and dependence are diagnosed in a small minority of patients receiving chronic opioid therapy, but this may under-estimate actual misuse. Characteristics of the patients and of the opioid therapy itself are associated with the risk of abuse and dependence.

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