People who use prescription opioids “non-medically” commonly suffer from a combination of mental health problems and pain, according to a new CAMH study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry
. Non-medical use means the opioids have not been prescribed by a doctor, or are not being used for the purposes they were prescribed for.
Based on this finding, CAMH scientist Dr. Benedikt Fischer and colleagues recommend that patients who make non-medical use of prescription opioids be screened for undiagnosed or untreated mental health problems and/or pain. North America has the highest and a steeply rising rate of consumption of prescription opioid drugs. “As prescription opioids are widely available and used in North America, they may increasingly be used in non-medical ways for pain or mental health problems not effectively diagnosed or treated,” note the authors. This growing problem can only be effectively addressed if its link to mental health and pain problems are more effectively identified, prevented and treated, they say.