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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Nov 26, 2023  3 months, 5 days, 7 hours, 1 minute ago

Medical News: Study Shows That Long-Term Use Of Painkillers In Young Adults And Children Can Lead To Mental Illness And Substance Misuse!

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Medical News: Study Shows That Long-Term Use Of Painkillers In Young Adults And Children Can Lead To Mental Illness And Substance Misuse!
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Nov 26, 2023  3 months, 5 days, 7 hours, 1 minute ago
Medical News: A recent research study conducted by scientists at the University of Liverpool-UK and St George's University of London-UK and University College London-UK, has brought to light the intricate and far-reaching consequences of long-term painkiller use in children and young adults. The study, utilizing a vast database of anonymized electronic health records, delves deep into the connections between chronic pain, prescription painkillers, and subsequent mental health, substance misuse, and prescription opioid use, unraveling a complex web of factors that demand urgent attention.


 
The Prevalence of Chronic Pain in Youth
Chronic pain, a condition persisting for more than three months, is a significant concern affecting 8% of children, with 29% of these individuals experiencing intense and frequent pain. While chronic pain in itself poses challenges, the study reveals that its impact goes beyond immediate discomfort, with implications for long-term mental health.
 
Mental Health Ramifications of Chronic Pain
The research findings indicate that children and young adults with chronic pain are 29% more likely to develop mental illnesses in adulthood. The link between chronic pain and mental health issues emphasizes the need for early intervention and comprehensive pain management strategies to address not only the physical aspect of pain but also its psychological ramifications.
 
Prescription Painkillers Exacerbate Risks
Adding a layer of complexity, the study covered in this Medical News report, uncovers that individuals under 25 with chronic pain who were prescribed painkillers faced heightened risks. Those given prescription painkillers were not only 46% more likely to experience mental illness in adulthood but also faced an alarming 82% higher risk of substance misuse. This alarming correlation raises concerns about the potential contribution of prescription painkillers to the ongoing substance misuse epidemic.
 
Repeated Painkiller Prescriptions and Opioid Use
Digging deeper into the data, the researchers identified a critical distinction based on the frequency of painkiller prescriptions. Individuals repeatedly prescribed painkillers for chronic pain exhibited significantly higher rates of mental illness, substance misuse, and prescription opioid use in adulthood compared to those who did not receive painkiller prescriptions. This finding underscores the importance of evaluating the long-term impact of repeated painkiller prescriptions in the management of chronic pain.
 
Risk Factors - Intellectual Disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder
The study brings attention to vulnerable populations within this complex scenario. Individuals with intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder were found to be over-represented among those receiving repeat prescriptions for pain relief without a chronic pain diagnosis. This raises ethical concerns about overprescribing in already vulnerable groups and highlights the need for tailored approaches to pain management in these populations.
 
< strong>Long-Term Health Outcomes: A Five-Year Follow-Up
The research involved a meticulous follow-up of participants for an average of five years after the age of 25, offering a comprehensive view of the long-term health outcomes associated with chronic pain and painkiller use. The exposed group, consisting of individuals with chronic pain and repeated painkiller prescriptions, faced a 31% higher risk of adverse mental health outcomes and a 17% higher risk of substance misuse in adulthood.
 
Stratified Analysis and Non-Opioid Analgesics
Delving into a stratified analysis, the study challenged preconceived notions about the safety of non-opioid analgesics. Even exposure to repeat prescriptions for non-opioid analgesics was associated with increased rates of prescription opioid use, substance misuse, and adverse mental health outcomes in later life. This discovery prompts a reevaluation of the assumption that non-opioid analgesics pose a lower risk, urging a closer examination of their long-term implications.
 
Implications for Pain Management Practices
Dr Andrew Lambarth, an Academic Clinical Fellow in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at St George's, emphasizes the need to optimize chronic pain management in young people. Striking a balance between adequately treating pain and avoiding over-reliance on medications is crucial. Healthcare providers must weigh the risks and benefits of prescribing painkillers at a young age and explore alternative, non-pharmacological management approaches.
 
Contributing to the Opioid Crisis
Professor Reecha Sofat, Breckenridge Chair of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the University of Liverpool, expresses concern about the inadvertent contribution to the opioid crisis. The study highlights the potential for regular painkiller use in youth to lead to unintentional over-reliance on these medications in adulthood. This aspect of the research underscores the urgency of revamping pain management practices to align with evolving insights and mitigate the risk of fueling the opioid crisis further.
 
Primary Care Record Challenges and Future Research
While the study provides invaluable insights, it acknowledges the challenges associated with primary care record databases, including underdiagnosis of chronic pain. Leveraging medicines data as a proxy for disease emerges as a novel approach, offering potential avenues for future research. Despite limitations, the findings emphasize the need for a nuanced understanding of chronic pain and painkiller use, encouraging further exploration and refinement of research methodologies.
 
Conclusion
In unraveling the complex web of consequences associated with long-term painkiller use in youth, this groundbreaking study emphasizes the need for a comprehensive and nuanced approach to pain management. Chronic pain, while prevalent in children and young adults, extends its impact far beyond physical discomfort, intertwining with mental health, substance misuse, and prescription opioid use. The study's findings challenge assumptions about the safety of non-opioid analgesics and highlight the potential risks associated with repeated painkiller prescriptions.
 
Moving forward, healthcare providers must tread cautiously, weighing the risks and benefits of painkiller prescriptions in young individuals. Early recognition of chronic pain, especially in vulnerable populations, and increased access to specialist pain services are imperative steps to mitigate adverse outcomes in adulthood. The study calls for a paradigm shift in pain management practices, urging healthcare providers to explore non-pharmacological interventions and contribute to a more holistic and effective approach to addressing pain in youth.
 
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: The Lacet Regional Health - Europe.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666776223001825
 
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