No prior study, till date, has been conducted on the prevalence of pain in patients consuming heroin for a long time and receiving methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) for it. The association between substance dependence and pain is quite complicated and is a crucial clinical issue that needs to be addressed. Hence, Yang et al. (2017) were forced to investigate and assess heroin-dependent patients (HDPs) with MMT. The main factors under study include the clinical correlation, socio-demographics, and frequency of pain in HDPs.
Most commonly, patients with substance abuse are hardly treated for their chronic pain because their pain is often misunderstood as a craving for narcotics. As a result, HDP may consider self-medication with non-prescribed drugs, alcohol, or other illicit drugs to alleviate their pain. Yang’s study targeted heroine-dependent patients and comprehended the need for determination of the pain prevalence among individuals with drug dependence.
A total of 603 HDPs were recruited in the study program, where they were provided with a standardized questionnaire related to the clinical data and socio-demographic information. A Verbal Rating Scale ranging from 1 to 5 was used to assess the pain intensity, where a 5 score reflects severe pain while a 1 indicates no pain.
The pain with a score of three or above is considered to be clinical significant pain (CSP) and was assessed by all the participants of the respective MMT clinics. According to the results, 53.6% was found to be the prevalence of CSP in patients with heroine dependence receiving MMT.
The main factors responsible for this high level of prevalence of pain were identified by the use of multiple logistic regression analysis and found to be: depressive symptoms, high dose of methadone, and history of injecting heroine; religious beliefs; unemployment; non-married marital status; and old age. Experimental results revealed that the prolonged use of opioids enhanced the sensitivity to pain and caused “opioid-induced hyperalgesia,” Yang concluded.
Yang, Y. J., Xu, Y. M., Chen, W. C., Zhu, J. H., Lu, J., & Zhong, B. L. (2017). Prevalence of pain and its socio-demographic and clinical correlates among heroin-dependent patients receiving methadone maintenance treatment. Sci Rep, 7(1), 8840. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-09404-w