The official journal of
EUROPAD - European Opiate Addiction Treatment Association
WFTOD - World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
Editor: Icro Maremmani, MD - Pisa, Italy, EU
Associate Editors:
Thomas Clausen, MD - Oslo, Norway
Pier Paolo Pani, MD - Cagliari, Italy, EU
Marta Torrens, MD - Barcelona, Spain, EU
Statistical Editor:
Mario Miccoli, PhD - Pisa, Italy, EU

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Heroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems: 2024, 26, 15

The Impact of Chronic Pain and Depression on Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment: A Mixed-Methods Analysis

Corinne N. Kacmarek, Hannah C. Smith, Maxwell Kuehn, Melanie E. Bennett, Annabelle Belcher, Heather Fitzsimons, William Hall, Aaron Greenblatt, Lan Li, and Letitia Travaglini

Digital Object Identifier:

Summary: Background: Opioid use disorder (OUD) is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) is a cost-effective treatment, but retention rates vary widely. Aim: Mixed methods studies are needed to better understand how depression and pain impact the experience of OUD and MOUD treatment experiences. Methods: Participants were recruited from an urban addiction treatment center in the United States. Along with demographic characteristics, current pain severity, pain interference, pain catastrophizing, and depression were assessed via self-report. Correlational analyses, multivariable logistic regression models, Fisher exact tests, and Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used to examine the impact of demographic characteristics, physical pain, and depression on multiple treatment outcomes: 90-day treatment engagement (total number of dispensed MOUD doses), retention (yes/no still in treatment at 90 days), and opioid use (positive/negative urinalysis for opioids at 90 days). Ten participants were interviewed about their history with physical pain, depression, opioid use, and OUD treatment experiences. Themes were identified using a rapid analysis, top-down approach. Results: Fifty participants enrolled in the study and received buprenorphine (12%) or methadone (88%). Older age was associated with 90-day treatment engagement. Higher depression scores were associated with a positive opioid urinalysis at 90-day follow-up. In interviews, participants reported experiencing chronic physical pain and depression before and during their OUD and an interest in addressing mental and physical health in addiction treatment. Conclusions: Addressing co-occurring physical and mental health concerns during MOUD treatment has the potential to improve the treatment experience and abstinence from opioids.

Keywords: Opioid use disorder; Medication for opioid use disorder; Depression; Chronic pain; Treatment engagement; Treatment retention


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