The Impact of Pain on Key Outcomes in Opioid Use Disorder Recovery

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Virginia Tech


Opioid misuse and addiction constitute a significant public health challenge in the 21st century, with opioids involved in the majority of drug overdose deaths since 1999. A vigorously researched area that contributes substantially to the opioid misuse and addiction challenge is pain. The impact of pain, however, on important health outcomes for individuals in recovery from opioid use is less well understood. The effects of pain on substance use and mental health outcomes was investigated among individuals in recovery from opioid use disorder. Two studies are reported. First, the relationships between pain status and severity on substance use, treatment utilization, and mental health outcomes (e.g., depressive symptoms) was characterized cross-sectionally. Second, subgroups of OUD recovery defined by depression, opioid withdrawal, and pain were identified. Relationships between recovery subgroups, OUD symptoms, remission, opioid use, and quality of life were assessed. Finally, transitions among subgroups across 4 years of recovery were characterized. The present findings support pain as a key dimension of opioid use disorder recovery, highlighting the distinction between acute and chronic pain, the dynamic nature of opioid use disorder recovery, and emphasizing the necessity of integrating pain into opioid use disorder treatment.



opioid use disorder, opioid, chronic pain, acute pain, recovery, buprenorphine