While, opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine can be helpful in treating chronic pain, they should only be used on a short-term basis, says Jae Kennedy of Washington State University in Spokane and study author. “We are clearly overusing opioids [narcotics],” Kennedy said.
“The U.S. consumes about 80 percent of the world’s opioid supply, and 99 percent of the hydrocodone supply. These medications are effective in the short term, [such as] for managing postoperative pain, but long-term use often leads to dependency or addiction.”
The findings showed that a good portion of those surveyed who reported having arthritis or back and joint pain, said they did not have constant and persistent pain. More than two-thirds of participants who reported chronic pain said their pain was constant, and more than half claimed that their pain levels could be unbearable and excruciating at times. Researchers concluded that women and the elderly are most likely to have constant pain.
“If you’re dealing with pain constantly for a long period of time, that’s going to affect your work life, your family life, your social life. It also puts you at higher risk for things like mental illness and addiction,” Kennedy said in a news release.
It is worth pointing out that narcotic opioids are not always helpful for many people with chronic pain, according to Bob Twillman, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the American Academy of Pain Management. “Those medications are wonderful when they work, but on average, they only relieve about a third or less of the chronic pain people experience, and may be completely ineffective in treating some kinds of chronic pain,” Twillman said.
The study appears in the Journal of Pain.