The Journal of Pain Summary
Highlight from The Journal of Pain (Volume 20, No. 1, January 2019 Issue)
Associations Between Adolescent Chronic Pain and Prescription Opioid Misuse in Adulthood
Cornelius Botha Groenewald, Emily F. Law, Emma Fisher, Sarah E. Beals-Erickson, Tonya M. Palermo
Prescription opioid misuse is a serious public health epidemic and is a significant concern in the United States. However, research on pre-existing factors is scant. These authors considered the longitudinal relationship between the history of adolescent chronic pain and odds of misusing prescription opioids in adulthood and found that the primary predictor variable was chronic pain status during adolescence.
Chronic pain affects 15%–25% of adolescents. Furthermore, a recent analysis found that 25% of adults with chronic pain misuse prescription opioids, but studies have not yet identified whether chronic pain during adolescence is associated with increased risk for future opioid misuse.
Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health were examined and showed that those with a history of adolescent chronic pain were more likely to misuse opioids compared to those without such a history, even after controlling for other known risk factors. The authors considered a sample of 14,784 participants and report that 21.9% suffered chronic pain during adolescence. In addition, results show that other risk factors include race (white), other substance use, and exposure to trauma. Adolescents with chronic pain, on average, also reported higher depressive and anxious symptoms, and were more likely to rate their general health as fair or poor compared to adolescents without chronic pain.
This report concludes that early identification of at-risk individuals may minimize drug prescription misuse later in life.