People With Opioid Addiction Much More Likely To Suffer From Hep C, Alcoholism, Chronic Pain
According to a new report from health tech company Amino, Americans suffering from opioid addiction are much more likely to also suffer from many other health problems. These include alcoholism, back pain, hepatitis C, and others.
The company analyzed the insurance claims of over 300 million patients between 2014-2016 and compared those who were diagnosed with opioid use disorder to the rest of the population.
They found that those with opioid addiction (which include both prescription meds and illicit drugs such as heroin) are:
- Nine times more likely to have hep C
- More than 8 times more likely to suffer from alcohol use disorder, Seven times more likely to have suicidal thoughts
- Six times more likely to have chronic pain
- Five times more likely to have bipolar disorde
- Four times more likely to also have post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study did not, however, attempt to determine whether addiction contributed to the other conditions or vice versa. But some conditions, such as hepatitis C are often contracted by intravenous drug users through needle sharing. Indeed, the increase in heroin use in the last years is thought responsible for the marked rise in hepatitis C cases, as well.
On the other hand, chronic conditions such as back pain may be the catalyst for opioid use and eventual dependence. While opioids are not supposed to be used for chronic pain due to their highly addictive nature, they have been prescribed in many cases for back pain, fibromyalgia, and other long-lasting conditions.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a set of guidelines which recommended that opioids only be used for acute pain and only for seven years, except in special cases such as cancer or palliative care. In addition to dependence, opioids can cause a condition known as hyperalgesia, which ironically, results in the patient experiencing more pain due to increased sensitivity.
Of note, the increased likelihood of alcoholism in conjunction with opioid addiction is especially troubling. Both substances wreak havoc on the liver, and when consumed together, increase the risk of life-threatening central nervous system depression (overdose) and death.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology