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Research Finds More Than Half Of Opioid Prescriptions Received By Adults With Mood Disorders

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Research Finds More Than Half Of Opioid Prescriptions Received By Adults With Mood Disorders

According to recent research from the University of Michigan and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, more than half (51%) of all opioid medicines received by adults each in the U.S. year are prescribed to those who have mood disorders including depression and anxiety.

Prescription opioids are a class of drugs that include oxycodone and hydrocodone and are generally indicated for moderate to severe pain. They are highly addictive, prone to abuse, and when used with other central nervous system depressants such as anti-anxiety medications, the risk of accidental overdose may increase significantly.

In total, 60 million of the 115 million opioid prescriptions distributed each year are written for adults with a mental health condition. Also, of the 38.6 million adults diagnosed with mental health conditions, more than 7 million (18%) receive opioid prescriptions each year.

This data is in contrast to just 5% of American adults without mental illness who use prescription opioids. This difference remained true even when researchers controlled for factors such as physical health, pain levels, age, sex, and race. Furthermore, this data reflects only about 16% of the adult population in the United States.

According to the author, Matthew Davis, assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing, opioid use by patients in the research were prescribed for a wide variety of conditions, with pain being the main diagnosis.

“Prescription opioid use among adults with mental health disorders in the United States,” is among the first to reveal how many adults with mental illness in the U.S. use painkillers. The study examined health data from 51,000 adults and will be published only in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine on July 6.

As to why, there is speculation that physicians may be more sympathetic and more forthcoming to patients with mental illness, and that patients with mood disorders may be more prone to seeking drugs because they also give them some relief from anxiety or depression.

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

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