Antidepressants abuse in subjects with opioid use disorders: A 10-year study in the French OPPIDUM program

Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2022 Apr;36(2):436-442. doi: 10.1111/fcp.12738. Epub 2021 Dec 8.


Accumulating evidence shows that some antidepressants are abused for their psychostimulant effects, but the extent of antidepressants abuse is unknown in subjects with opioid use disorders (OUD). The objective of this work is to assess the prevalence of antidepressant abuse and its correlates in subjects with OUD. Subjects ≥18 year-old in an opiate maintenance treatment (OMT) program who reported using an antidepressant were selected from the OPPIDUM program from 2011 to 2020. The outcome was antidepressant abuse. Antidepressant abusers were identified as subjects reporting at least one of the following behaviors: "drug abuse," "concomitant use of alcohol," "illegal obtaining," and "dose higher than recommended in the Summary of Product Characteristics." Among the 83 040 observations of subjects ≥18 year-old in an OMT program included in the OPPIDUM program from 2011 to 2020, 2708 (3.3%) subjects reported using an antidepressant in monotherapy. Among them, there were 385 (14.2%) abusers. The proportion of abusers was the highest for amitriptyline (n = 31, 25.0%). In multivariate analysis, antidepressant abuse was positively associated with amitriptyline (OR 2.07, 95% CI [1.16, 3.73]; p = 0.015), unemployment (OR 1.52, 95% CI [1.16, 2.01]; p = 0.003), the use of intravenous route of administration (OR 1.77, 95% CI [1.12, 2.80]; p = 0.014), and the use of benzodiazepines (OR 1.53, 95% CI [1.21, 1.94]; p < 0.001). Clinicians should be aware of the risk of antidepressant abuse when prescribing in subjects with OUD, accounting for their heterogeneous pharmacological properties that may account for their abuse potential.

Keywords: addictovigilance; antidepressants; opiate maintenance treatment; opioid use disorders; postmarketing surveillance; prescription drug abuse.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antidepressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / drug therapy
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Benzodiazepines