People who experience chronic pain may be addicted to medications

Researchers at Geisinger Health System have found that there is a large prevalence of pain medication addiction among those who experience chronic pain.

Scientists also report that the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) recently updated definition of addiction, which was expected to lower the amount of people who would be labeled as addicts, has actually resulted in no change.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, claims that 35 percent of people taking medications for chronic pain disorders meet both the new and old criteria for addiction.

“Most patients will not know if they carry the genetic risk factors for addiction,” said study leader Joseph Boscarino, adding that “improper or illegal use of prescription pain medication can become a lifelong problem with serious repercussions for users and their families.”

Researchers used online health records to select a random sample of people who take opiates regularly for chronic pain. They found that the new APA guidelines not only define the same number of people as addicts, but also include new symptoms that qualify individuals who would have been excluded by the old definition.

The study states that people under the age of 65 experiencing chronic pain who have a history of anti-social personality disorder are most likely to be addicts. Family history, past drug abuse and a history of withdrawal symptoms also point to a high possibility of developing opiate addiction.

Information website AddictionandRecovery.org offers a list of questions that a person can ask themselves in order to determine if they are an addict. The list is based on criteria set out by the APA regarding addiction.These include a noticeable increase in drug use over time, the presence of withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, nausea and irritability, unsuccessful attempts to stop drug use in the past and a need to prioritize using drugs over work or social activities.

The news source states that according to the APA if a person can answer yes to at least three out of the seven questions, they meet the definition of an addict.

The website reports that approximately 10 percent of the population is addicted to drugs or alcohol, making it more common that diabetes. It also mentions that 89 percent of homicides involve substance abuse, as do 37 percent of assault cases.

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