Frequency of Prescription Opioid Abuse and Suicide Risk

May 25, 2018

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

National data indicate that abuse of prescription opioids weekly or more is associated with risk of suicidal ideation, and suicide planning and attempts. 

Researchers used information from more than 41,000 participants in the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). They grouped participants into four categories based on average past-year prescription opioid abuse: (1) none, (2) less than monthly, (3) monthly to weekly, and (4) weekly or more. Their analysis adjusted for demographics, overall physical and mental health, and substance use disorders. After controlling for these factors, they found that participants who abused prescription opioids weekly or more were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation and suicide planning and attempts in the past year, compared to those who did not abuse prescription opioids.

This study identifies a population with suicide risk that is likely to have contact with pain clinics, primary care, and other settings where opioids may be prescribed. Because not all individuals at risk for suicide receive mental health care, these alternative settings could serve as important partners in suicide prevention.

Ashrafioun, L., Bishop, T. M., Conner, K. R., & Pigeon, W. R. (2017). Frequency of prescription opioid misuse and suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 92, 1–7.

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