Dynamic risk factors in the misuse of opioid analgesics

J Psychosom Res. 2012 Jun;72(6):443-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.02.009. Epub 2012 Apr 5.


Objective: Identify the risk factors for prescription opioid misuse among patients taking prescription opioids to deal with chronic pain.

Methods: We examined the literature for a variety of dynamic risk factors associated with opioid misuse among the chronic pain population in order to present a narrative review. Considered were: taking single or multiple opioids, pain intensity, mental health disorders, including a history of preadolescent sexual abuse, personal and familial history of substance abuse, a history of legal problems, being a crime victim, drug-seeking behaviors, drug craving, and age.

Results: A variety of risk factors have been studied in the literature. Risk factors in chronic opioid therapy patients are dynamic in that they can change with disease progression, tolerance, changes in pain quality, mental health, comorbidities, other drug therapies or drug interactions, and changes in the patient's lifestyle.

Conclusion: Opioid analgesic therapy must be tailored to carefully monitor all patients in order to minimize misuse and abuse, since the risk is constant and dynamic and therefore every patient is at some degree of risk for opioid misuse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / etiology*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Risk Factors


  • Analgesics, Opioid