Dr. Elyse Watkins, DHSc, PA-C, DFAAPA
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to review chronic pain patients being treated with opioids and analyze the associated risks of suicide.
Method: A PubMed literature and Google Scholar search were conducted with the following search terms: chronic pain, opioids, and suicide. Eleven pertinent articles were retrieved, and they serve as the basis for this clinical review.
Results: Evidence shows that chronic pain treated with opioids may increase the risk of suicide.
Conclusion: Studies have shown that chronic pain is a risk factor for suicide. Opioids could potentially be a risk for suicide, as well as a means of suicide. Prior research has shown that more than 90% of those who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental disorder at the time of death. Individuals with a history of depression and PTSD are more likely to have chronic pain and to receive prescription opioids; usually in higher doses and for longer periods of time. Further research is needed to establish a direct correlation between chronic pain, opioids, and suicide.
Nicholson JA. Suicide Risk in the Treatment of Chronic Pain with Opioids. University of Lynchburg DMSc Doctoral Project Assignment Repository. 2020; 2(2).
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