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Opioid prescription misuse in older adults results in lasting physical, mental complications

Research & Innovation

Jayme Blaschke | November 19, 2019

older man with head in hand

Older adults in the U.S. who suffer prescription opioid misuse (POM) are at a higher risk for physical and mental quality of life problems as well as other complications, new research conducted in part at Texas State University indicates. 

Ty Schepis, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Texas State, co-authored the study with Sean Esteban McCabe, professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan. Their research, "Prescription Opioid Misuse in US Older Adults: Associated Comorbidities and Reduced Quality of Life in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions-III," is published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.19m12853).

The researchers found that older adults with persistent POM experienced high rates of major depression (17.6%), emergency department use (42.7%) and any substance use disorder (37.4%). Older adults who had experienced POM over the previous year had high rates of physical health diagnoses and health care utilization, with 45.6% undergoing overnight hospitalization. Of those individuals who had experienced POM prior to the previous year, 13.7% of them had suffered major depression in the previous year. 

Research data was collected from the 2012–2013 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions-III, using adults 50 years and older. Respondents were grouped into mutually exclusive categories: no lifetime POM, prior-to-previous year POM, previous year POM and persistent POM. Groups were compared on health-related quality of life and mental health, physical health and substance use variables, controlling for sociodemographics.

The researchers conclude that older adults with persistent POM likely need multidisciplinary care for their significant physical and mental health and substance use conditions. 

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922