Opioid painkillers' dependence in a sample of elderly medical inpatients

Stephania Chiappini, Fabrizio Schifano, Giovanni Martinotti, Johanna Strasser, Udo Bonnet, Norbert Scherbaum

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Over the past few years there has been a growing concern towards prescription opioid misuse/dependence in the elderly. Thus, our study aimed at investigating the prevalence of previous and current prescribing opioid dependence among elderly medical inpatients recruited from a large German Hospital.

METHODS: This cross-sectional study analysed a cohort of inpatients aged 65 years and older who were assessed with the help of a structured clinical interview (SCID-I). Levels of past/current opioid; benzodiazepines; hypnotics; and non-opioid analgesics’ dependence were assessed.

RESULTS: Out of a total of 2,108 elderly inpatients admitted to the hospital over 6 months, some 400 fulfilled the inclusion criteria and agreed to participate to the survey. Some 43 (10.8%) subjects presented with a dependence on opioid analgesics; in 41 cases this was a current, and for 22 (51.2%) a de novo, condition. Addiction severity was considered mild and severe respectively in 65.1% and 11.6% of cases, with tilidine and oxycodone having been the most typically reported molecules. CONCLUSIONS: Further research is warranted, to better understand possible risk factors of prescription drug misuse/abuse/addiction in this vulnerable population. Clinicians should be updated and informed regarding both prescription medication misuse potential and safe prescribing practices in the elderly.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalPsychogeriatrics
Volume21
Issue number2
Early online date16 Feb 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Feb 2021

Keywords

  • opioid dependence
  • elderly
  • drug abuse
  • addiction

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