Prescription medication misuse and substance use disorder in VA primary care patients with chronic pain

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97 Scopus citations


Objective: The goal of this paper was to examine the relationship between history of substance use disorder (SUD) and self-reported prescription medication misuse in 127 primary care patients who receive opioid medications for treatment of chronic pain. Method: Participants completed measures of pain location, pain intensity, disability due to pain, and misuse of prescription medications. Other measures included demographic characteristics, psychiatric symptomatology and quality of life. Results: Seventy-eight percent of participants reported at least one indicator of medication misuse in the prior year. After adjusting for age and clinical factors (pain severity, depression severity, current alcohol or substance use disorder), participants with SUD history were significantly more likely than participants without SUD history to report borrowing pain medications from others (OR=6.62, 95% CI=1.4-30.7) and requesting an early refill of pain medication (OR=3.86, 95% CI=1.5-9.6). Conclusions: Misuse of prescription medications is a concern among primary care patients with chronic pain. Participants with a lifetime history of SUD are more likely to endorse some aberrant medication-related behaviors. Patients with SUD histories should be carefully evaluated for medication misuse potential and may require more intense assessment and follow-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008


  • Chronic pain
  • Medication misuse
  • Opiates
  • Primary care
  • Substance use disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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