Afghanistan and Iraq veterans' opioid use similar to that of civilians

April 25, 2017

Research Triangle Park, N.C.-- Heavy rucksacks, parachuting out of helicopters, combat injuries, and stress result in chronic pain for many service members. In the United States, opioids are commonly prescribed to manage chronic pain, and overprescribing is a concern, particularly for veterans' healthcare.

However, a new study published in Pain suggests that opioid use among Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) veterans is roughly comparable to that of the general U.S. population.

"We found that use of opioids among OEF/OIF/OND veterans was characterized by use of moderate doses prescribed for fairly long periods of time," said Teresa Hudson, Pharm.D., Ph.D., study author and research scientist at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "However, chronic use among this group of veterans appeared to be lower than that of veterans who served in other time periods."

The first-of-its kind study looked at pharmacy claims data from the Veterans Health Administration and found that 23 percent of all OEF, OIF, and OND veterans were prescribed an opioid in a given year. Among veterans prescribed opioids, about two-thirds took them for short periods of time, and one-third took them chronically.

"Findings from this study suggest that opioid use patterns of OEF/OIF/and OND veterans are similar to those of the U.S. population and suggest that the opioid problem is not so much a VA problem, but rather, an American problem," said Mark Edlund, M.D., Ph.D., study author and senior research scientist at RTI International.

The study found that PTSD, major depressive disorder, tobacco use, and rural residence were strongly associated with chronic opioid use. Pain severity also increased the odds of chronic pain use among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

To learn more about RTI's opioid research, visit the emerging issues page.
-end-


RTI International

Related Chronic Pain Articles from Brightsurf:

Researchers are developing potential treatment for chronic pain
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen have developed a new way to treat chronic pain which has been tested in mice.

Molecular link between chronic pain and depression revealed
Researchers at Hokkaido University have identified the brain mechanism linking chronic pain and depression in rats.

How chikungunya virus may cause chronic joint pain
A new method for permanently marking cells infected with chikungunya virus could reveal how the virus continues to cause joint pain for months to years after the initial infection, according to a study published Aug.

Gastroesophageal reflux associated with chronic pain in temporomandibular joint
Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is associated with chronic, painful temporomandibular disorder -- pain in the temporomandibular joint -- and anxiety and poor sleep contribute to this association, according to a study in CMAJ.

One step closer to chronic pain relief
While effective drugs against chronic pain are not just around the corner, researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, have succeeded in identifying a protein as a future potential target for medicinal drugs.

Gut bacteria associated with chronic pain for first time
In a paper published today in the journal Pain, a Montreal-based research team has shown, for the first time, that there are alterations in the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts of people with fibromyalgia.

Nearly 5.4 million cancer survivors suffer chronic pain
A new report finds about one in three cancer survivors (34.6%) reported having chronic pain, representing nearly 5.4 million cancer survivors in the United States.

New opioid speeds up recovery without increasing pain sensitivity or risk of chronic pain
A new type of non-addictive opioid developed by researchers at Tulane University and the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System accelerates recovery time from pain compared to morphine without increasing pain sensitivity, according to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation.

New target for chronic pain relief confirmed by scientists
A research group at Hiroshima University observed a potential new target for chronic pain treatment.

Menopause symptoms nearly double the risk of chronic pain
In addition to the other health conditions affected by estrogen, it has also been shown to affect pain sensitivity.

Read More: Chronic Pain News and Chronic Pain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.