Addiction to Prescription Opioids: Characteristics of the Emerging Epidemic and Treatment With Buprenorphine

California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute, St. Luke's Hospital, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94110, USA.
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 2.71). 11/2008; 16(5):435-41. DOI: 10.1037/a0013637
Source: PubMed


Dependence on and abuse of prescription opioid drugs is now a major health problem, with initiation of prescription opioid abuse exceeding cocaine in young people. Coincident with the emergence of abuse and dependence on prescription opioids, there has been an increased emphasis on the treatment of pain. Pain is now the "5th vital sign" and physicians face disciplinary action for failure to adequately relieve pain. Thus, physicians are whipsawed between the imperative to treat pain with opioids and the fear of producing addiction in some patients. In this article, the authors characterize the emerging epidemic of prescription opioid abuse, discuss the utility of buprenorphine in the treatment of addiction to prescription opioids, and present illustrative case histories of successful treatment with buprenorphine.

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    • "Our results indicate, as expected from earlier work, that oxycodone and hydrocodone products, the opioids most commonly used to control pain in the medical and dental fields [19] [37] [41], are likewise the most highly abused opioids [2] [7] [12] [21] [27] [37] [42] [45]. Given that it has been shown that there is a direct relationship between the number of opioid prescriptions by health care providers and the magnitude of diversion to the illicit marketplace [6] [13] [29], accessibility is certainly a major feature attracting non-therapeutic users to these drugs. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of the present study was to identify the factors that influence the selection of hydrocodone and oxycodone as primary drugs of abuse in opioid-dependent subjects (n=3520) entering one of 160 drug treatment programs around the country. Anonymous, self-administered surveys and direct qualitative interviews were used to examine the influence of demographic characteristics, drug use patterns, and decision-related factors on primary opioid selection. Our results showed that oxycodone and hydrocodone were the drugs of choice in 75% of all patients. Oxycodone was the choice of significantly more users (44.7%) than hydrocodone (29.4%) because the quality of the high was viewed to be much better by 54% of the sample, compared to just 20% in hydrocodone users, who cited acetaminophen as a deterrent to dose escalation to get high and hence, its low euphoric rating. Hydrocodone users were generally risk-averse women, elderly people, noninjectors, and those who prefer safer modes of acquisition than dealers (ie, doctors, friends, or family members). In contrast, oxycodone was a much more attractive euphorigenic agent to risk-tolerant young, male users who prefer to inject or snort their drugs to get high and are willing to use more aggressive forms of diversion. Prevention and treatment approaches, and pain physicians, should benefit from these results because it is clear that not all drug abusers share the same characteristics, and the decision to use one drug over another is a complex one, which is largely attributable to individual differences (eg, personality, gender, age, and other factors).
    Pain 12/2013; 154(12):2639-48. DOI:10.1016/j.pain.2013.07.025 · 5.21 Impact Factor
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    • "us, there might be important differences among these patient populations that make direct comparisons inappropriate. Nevertheless, addiction to prescription opioids has been identi�ed as an emerging epidemic in North America, and methadone is the appropriate medication for this condition [14] [17]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective. To report the one-year retention rate and the prevalence of illicit opioid use and cocaine use in the Low-Threshold/High-Tolerance (LTHT) methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) clinic located in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. Methods. A description of the LTHT MMT clinic is provided. The one-year retention rate was determined by collecting data on patients who enrolled in the LTHT MMT clinic between August 04, 2009 and August 04, 2010. The prevalence of illicit drug use was determined using a randomly selected retrospective cohort of 84 participants. For each participant the results of six consecutive urine tests for the most recent three months were compared to the results of the first six consecutive urine tests after program entry. Results. The one-year retention rate was 95%, 67% of the cohort achieved abstinence from illicit opioids and an additional 13% abstained from cocaine use. Conclusion. The novel feature of the LTHT MMT clinic is that patients are not denied methadone because of lack of ancillary services. Traditional comprehensive MMT programs invest the majority of financial resources in ancillary services that support the biopsychosocial model, whereas the LTHT approach utilizes a medical model and directs resources at medical management.
    10/2012; 2013(2090-7834). DOI:10.1155/2013/753409
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    • "Buprenorphine treatment of opioid abuse and dependence is reviewed in Treatment Improvement Protocol 40 [35]. Buprenorphine has been shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of both injection (heroin) opioid use and prescription drug abuse and dependence [36]. Buprenorphine has also been developed in a combination form with naloxone to reduce the risk of diversion for illicit use. "
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    ABSTRACT: Providing access to and utilization of medication assisted treatment (MAT) for the treatment of opioid abuse and dependence provides an important opportunity to improve public health. Access to health services comprising MAT in the community is fundamental to achieve broad service coverage. The type and placement of the health services comprising MAT and integration with primary medical care including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention, care and treatment services are optimal for addressing both substance abuse and co-occurring infectious diseases. As an HIV prevention intervention, integrated (same medical record for HIV services and MAT services) MAT with HIV prevention, care and treatment programs provides the best "one stop shopping" approach for health service utilization. Alternatively, MAT, medical and HIV services can be separately managed but co-located to allow convenient utilization of primary care, MAT and HIV services. A third approach is coordinated care and treatment, where primary care, MAT and HIV services are provided at distinct locations and case managers, peer facilitators, or others promote direct service utilization at the various locations. Developing a continuum of care for patients with opioid dependence throughout the stages MAT enhances the public health and Recovery from opioid dependence. As a stigmatized and medical disenfranchised population with multiple medical, psychological and social needs, people who inject drugs and are opioid dependent have difficulty accessing services and navigating medical systems of coordinated care. MAT programs that offer comprehensive services and medical care options can best contribute to improving the health of these individuals thereby enhancing the health of the community.
    International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 10/2011; 8(10):4102-17. DOI:10.3390/ijerph8104102 · 2.06 Impact Factor
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