Persistent pain is associated with substance use after detoxification: a prospective cohort analysis

Authors

  • Mary Jo Larson,

    Corresponding author
    1. New England Research Institutes, Watertown MA, USA,
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  • Michael Paasche-Orlow,

    1. Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA, USA,
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  • Debbie M. Cheng,

    1. Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA, USA,
    2. Department of Biostatistics, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA and
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  • Christine Lloyd-Travaglini,

    1. Data Coordinating Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston MA, USA,
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  • Richard Saitz,

    1. Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA, USA,
    2. Youth Alcohol Prevention Center, and Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA,
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  • Jeffrey H. Samet

    1. Clinical Addiction Research and Education (CARE) Unit, Section of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA, USA,
    2. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
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Mary Jo Larson, New England Research Institutes, 9 Galen Street, Watertown, MA 02472, USA. E-mail: mjlarson@neriscience.com

ABSTRACT

Aims  To test the hypothesis that persistent pain is associated with an increased odds of substance use after detoxification.

Design  Analysis of data from a prospective cohort enrolled in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to improve linkage with primary medical care.

Setting  An urban residential detoxification program.

Participants  Adults (n = 397) enrolled in the RCT with heroin, alcohol or cocaine as a substance of choice and at least one follow-up interview.

Measurements  The key independent variable was pain status: persistent pain (moderate to very severe pain at all available interviews), no pain (mild pain or less at all available interviews) and intermittent pain (all others). There were four outcomes of interest: self-reported use of any substance; heroin/opioid use; heavy alcohol use; and cocaine use 24 months after detoxification. Multivariable logistic regression controlled for several covariates including demographics, physical/sexual abuse, depressive symptoms, duration of follow-up and addiction severity at study entry.

Findings  Pain in detoxification patients was common; 16% had persistent pain and 54% had intermittent pain. Persistent pain was associated with an increased odds for use of any substance [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 4.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9–9.3], heroin/opioid use (AOR 5.4, 95% CI 2.1–13.8) and heavy alcohol use (AOR 2.2, 95% CI 1.0–4.5) at the 24-month follow-up. A statistically non-significant increase in the odds of cocaine use (AOR 2.0, 95% CI 0.9–4.6) was also observed.

Conclusions  Among individuals leaving residential detoxification, chronic pain is a common problem and is associated independently with long-term substance use after detoxification. Addressing pain as a treatable chronic condition among adults receiving detoxification presents a potential opportunity to improve long-term clinical outcomes and warrants further intervention research.

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