Five Risk Factors for Opioid Dependence You Ought to Know


Over the past decade, the rate of opioid prescriptions has risen significantly, leading many doctors to fear growing levels of dependence and abuse. In order to identify some of the factors that influence a person’s risk of becoming dependent, a team of researchers combed over patient data from the electronic records of the Geisinger Health System. They then conducted interviews with 705 of these patients.

26 percent of opioid prescription users are currently dependent, the study found; moreover, 36 percent of users will become dependent at some point in their lifetimes. The study also identified five factors that made a person eight times more likely to develop an opioid dependence. These factors are:

  • Younger Age:
  • History of opioid abuse:
  • High dependence severity
  • Major depression
  • Psychiatric medication use

In later analyses, the researchers found that someone without a history of opioid abuse, but with the rest of these factors, was more at risk for dependence. A history of abuse alone significantly increased the likelihood of dependence.

“While some of these factors are known to be associated with drug dependence, others are not so obvious [such as] psychotropic medication use,” the study authors wrote. “These data may be useful to better determine susceptibility for opioid use disorders in clinical practice and for improving patient management.”

Are you or someone you know addicted opioids? Consider joining one of the Segal Institute’s clinical research studies on opioid dependence.


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