Author(s): Manchikanti L, Manchukonda R, Pampati V, Damron KS
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Multiple studies have documented the incidence of illicit drug use and abuse of opioids. Over the years, several hypotheses have been proposed. Short-acting opioids such as hydrocodone are generally considered to predispose patients to poor pain management, dependency, misuse, or abuse; whereas long-acting opioids such as methadone are thought to provide sustained pain management without dependency or abuse. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate and identify the prevalence of illicit drug use and prescription drug abuse or misuse in patients receiving hydrocodone or methadone. STUDY DESIGN: A prospective, comparative evaluation. METHODS: A total of 200 patients from an interventional pain management setting, divided into two groups of 100 consecutive patients receiving either hydrocodone (Group I) or methadone (Group II) were evaluated with urine testing for illicit drug use, and/or misuse or abuse of opioids. Drug testing was carried out by Rapid Drug Screen(R). RESULTS: Results of this study showed that 22\% (95\% CI, 13\% - 30\%) of Group I patients receiving hydrocodone used illicit drugs as compared with 24\% (95\% CI, 15\% - 32\%) of those in Group II who were receiving methadone. The misuse or abuse of a prescription opioid was seen in 3\% (95\% CI, 0\% - 6\%) of the patients in Group I and 12\% (95\% CI, 5\% - 18\%) in Group II. In a significant proportion of patients in both groups, the drug prescribed for them was not detected on testing. The combined use of illicit drugs and misuse of prescription drugs was noted in 24\% (95\% CI, 15\% - 32\%) in Group I and 33\% (95\% CI, 23\% - 42\%) in Group II. CONCLUSIONS: There were no significant differences as to illicit drug use and/or misuse of opioids in patients treated with hydrocodone or methadone. These findings suggest that the use of a long acting opioid formulation by patients with chronic pain does not reduce the risk of drug abuse or improve compliance with medical therapy.
This article was published in Pain Physician
and referenced in Journal of Analytical & Bioanalytical Techniques