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Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Found More Effective When Depression Also Successfully Treated

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment | Just Believe Recovery PA

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Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Found More Effective When Depression Also Successfully Treated

According to new research, opioid use disorder treatment may be more effective when depression is treated to cessation.

A research team from St. Louis University has discovered that depression is often a result of chronic opioid use. For the study, they found that patients who used prescription opioids long-term and suffered from depression were more likely to stop using opioids when given anti-depressant drugs.

Moreover, an examination revealed that patients who adhered to anti-depressant medication therapy and stopped using opioids exhibited a fast and increased decline in depressive symptoms compared to patients who continued to use opioids.

Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D., professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University stated the following in a press release:

“We can’t be sure that a decrease in depression led to patients’ choosing to stop opioid use and we know prospective studies are needed. Depression can worsen pain and is common in patients who remain long-term prescription opioid users.”

Chronic prescription opioid use for non-cancer pain is defined as near-daily use for three months. Up to 10% of patients with a new opioid prescription develop chronic use and most patients (up to 80%) who continually use opioids for 90 days are still using opioids at least three years later.

These long-term patients have an increased likelihood of developing opioid use disorder and experiencing an overdose compared to short-term patients. Chronic opioid use is also linked to new episodes of depression and depression that is difficult to treat.


“Effective depression treatment may break the mutually reinforcing opioid-depression relationship and increase the likelihood of successful opioid cessation.”

Past research has also revealed that patients who adhere to anti-antidepressants are much more likely to experience improvement in depression.

About The Study

For their findings, researchers used medical record data from the Veterans Health Administration from 2000 to 2012. The study included a random sample of 500,000 patients aged 18-80 who did not have a diagnosis of HIV or cancer. All patients developed depression after using prescription opioids continuously for three months.

Anti-depressant drugs used in the study included SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors), MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), TCAs, and ADMs.

~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology




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