-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The mystery of why some
people are more likely to become addicted to opioid painkillers has
been partially unraveled by the Geisinger Health System in
Its researchers found that the group most vulnerable to
addiction has four main risk factors in common: age (being younger
than 65); a history of depression; prior drug abuse; and using
psychiatric medications. Painkiller addiction rates among patients
with these factors are as high as 26 percent.
For the study, they interviewed and analyzed DNA from 705
patients with back pain who were prescribed opioid painkillers -- a
class that includes such narcotics as morphine and codeine -- for
more than 90 days.
The researchers also studied a gene on chromosome 15 that has
been linked with alcohol, cocaine and nicotine addiction. The data
suggested that DNA mutations on a gene cluster on chromosome 15 may
also be associated with opioid addiction.
"These findings suggest that patients with pre-existing risk factors are more likely to become addicted to painkillers, providing the foundation for further clinical evaluation," Joseph Boscarino, an epidemiologist and senior investigator at Geisinger's Center for Health Research, said in a health system news release.
"By assessing patients in chronic pain for these risk factors before prescribing painkillers, doctors will be better able to treat their patients' pain without the potential for future drug addiction," he added.
Boscarino and colleagues also said these same risk factors may
increase the risk of drug addiction in patients without a history
of chronic pain.
The study appears in the September issue of the journal
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers a guide to the
safe use of pain medicines.
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