Opioid Misuse Study Questioned

Opioid Misuse Study Questioned

pillsopoid300A report out this week published in the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) scientific journal found that 20-to-30% of opioids prescribed for chronic pain are being misused. It also concluded that the rate of addiction is approximately 10%.

The study was a meta-analysis that combined data of 38 prior studies which were designed to determine the prevalence of opioid misuse.

The way the study was designed caught the eye of Dr. Richard Radnovich, who runs the Injury Care Medical Center in Boise, Idaho which is a leader in clinical research for the treatment of pain.

“While the aim (of the study) is laudable, there are a number of problems with drawing too many conclusions or making policy decisions from this study,” Dr. Radnovich told the National Pain Report.

Statistically speaking, meta-analysis studies are most valuable when the studies included have consistent methodologies, definitions and results.

“Simply put, averaging bad data does not create valid data,” he said.”In this case, methodologies were not consistent, and, most glaringly, the data from previous studies had wildly varying results-going from less than 1% in one study of misuse to about 80% in another.

There is a growing concern among pain professionals and patients that the issues of chronic pain which affects at least 100 million Americans and opioid dependency have merged. The Drug Enforcement Administration decision last year to reschedule hydrocodone combination products to Schedule 2 has put an added emphasis on opioid dependency.

Dr. Steve Passik, Vice President of Clinical Research and Advocacy at Millennium Health was talking about this issue recently with the National Pain Report.

” Where opioids are concerned we dramatically expanded their use and then we went from having one tremendous public health problem, chronic pain to having two by adding the problem of prescription drug abuse and the pendulum has been swinging between the two to try and figure out an effective strategy to keep people with pain treated and to avoid, abuse, addiction, overdose and death.”

Dr. Radnovich struck a similar theme.

There is little doubt that both chronic pain and prescription medication abuse are problems for society. Part of the overall challenge is our lack of understanding of the depth of the problem,” he said. “Invalid over-estimates of misuse do nothing to help understand true addiction or the recreational misuse of opioids. It only serves to further stigmatize the chronic pain patient.


According to a report by the Center for Disease Control, there were over 16,000 deaths involving prescription opioids in 2013, an increase of 1% from 2012. It is estimated that about one in three Americans suffer from chronic pain.

We conducted a longer interview with Dr. Radnovich and will be sharing his thoughts on other issues facing chronic pain sufferers in the coming days.




Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 12 comments for this article
  1. eatsmarter.de at 9:02 am

    It’s actually a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you just shared this helpful information with us.
    Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Joanne kuyava at 8:04 pm

    Theres a big difference in being dependent on meds for a legitiment reason and being addicted because you want to get high. I personnaly don’t care if its one in five or one in fifteen that have chronic pain, I know I have for twenty years. I’m sixty five now, and I deserve to be pain free.

  3. Donna at 11:13 am

    I thought maybe you didn’t know enough older people to base that statement on. I know many people, mostly women, with chronic pain. I was diagnosed in my mid twenties with FMS/CFS. I am 55.

  4. John Sandherr at 8:55 pm

    Why do you ask about my age ?

    Just curious


    John Sandherr

    Proud Father of 2 USMC Vets

  5. John S at 12:45 pm

    I will.

    My idea of Chronic Pain is severe pain that is present in the body
    24 hours a day and does not respond to the entry level modalities.
    Pain that brakes a persons will to go on,
    Pain that keeps a person from enjoying life.
    Pain that won’t allow sleep or relaxation.
    Pain that strips a person of all dignity.
    I can go on and on.

    If you are the Dr. from Montanna, I applaud what you have done
    and what they are doing to you is criminal. I wish I could help you.

    God Bless you

    John S

  6. John S at 6:04 pm

    Not even close but thanks. I’m in my mid 50’s.

    My first operation was in 1986 and my last was
    in 2008. Total of Eleven back operations and Chronic
    Pain Patient for 13 years now.

    I starting a Book about Chronic Pain and the Hell that we go through.


    John S

  7. Janine at 1:45 am

    we must stop the drug testing of legitimate pain patients , the DEA and VA have forced thousands of Vets off opiates for cronic pain , testifying in front of lawmakers there is no legitimate use for these drugs for cronic pain , yet 9 out of ten comment from the public disagree . veterans were forced into withdrawel , than drug tested to abuse their basic rights to access these drugs for pain . O tolerance and no protection , by law to protect the patient from illegal search . They did commit suicide in mass and this is the true outcome of their war on pain patients . All lies that got them to force americans across the country to summit under incomplete statistics to take away all rights to keep them from going thru withdrawl. Dependancy is a medical emergency when forced off these meds , all those hostpital statistics do not account for these numbers before lawmakers . We need to know why so many died from prescription overdose , we may find it had little to do with people selling their pain medication , a tactic used to violate every pain patients right to live free from such injustice , If not for the general public than for the VETS see how the VA braggs about withholding pain meds , it is a scandl and way past time to stop drug testing and survalance . the war on pain patients is very real and must stop

  8. Jay Fleming at 8:55 am

    Why is it when 16,000 people die in hospitals from NSAID’s it’s a note in a medical journal, when 16,000 people die from opioids it’s a crisis.

    Truth is, people with chronic pain will do anything to make the pain stop. How many people commit suicide each year from under treated pain?

    I’m sorry some people abuse these drugs, but that’s no reason to not prescribe them.

    If a patient abuses their medications and dies, thats sad.
    If a patient commits suicide because of under treated pain, that’s a tragedy.

  9. Nancy at 4:37 pm

    What? This is the stuff people with chronic pain worry about. Where do these numbers come from. I think most people going to pain clinics are not abusing their meds. They are so controlled by urine tests and pill counting. I think their should be guidelines for chronic pain. What works best, what adjunct meds work best. We need good . research. Who decided that opiods don’t work for chronic pain. Did anyone ask the patients? Maybe trying a little harder to make this work. The numbers are all over the place. How do you calculate deaths due to prescribed drugs. Over what period of time and what kind of drugs, how many were do to opioids. How many were suicides because of suicide because patients where under treated and continuid to be in uncontrolled pain. Focus should be on getting patients in pain the treatment they need.

  10. John S at 1:37 pm

    Wow- 1 in 3 people in the US suffer from chronic pain.

    That’s got to be wrong - I think it’s much less and more
    like 1 in 15 that truly suffer from a Chronic Pain problem.

    Maybe Dr.’s are being told by drug seekers they have chronic
    pain but I feel the actual number that suffer the problem is a lot
    lower. I know of 1 other person out if 50 that has it.

    Back to the drawing board guys

    John S

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