26 doctors weighed in:
Are all patients with chronic pain who take pain medications at risk for addiction?
26 doctors weighed in

Dr. Lorne Bigley
Family Medicine
7 doctors agree
In brief: No
Only a small percent of people actually get addicted to narcotics, but most who are on it chronically are dependent.
The difference is that addiction is characterized by the continued use of a substance despite adverse consequences. The goal of chronic pain medicine is not to take the pain away, but to increase the function of the individual, so you can do more.

In brief: No
Only a small percent of people actually get addicted to narcotics, but most who are on it chronically are dependent.
The difference is that addiction is characterized by the continued use of a substance despite adverse consequences. The goal of chronic pain medicine is not to take the pain away, but to increase the function of the individual, so you can do more.
Dr. Lorne Bigley
Dr. Lorne Bigley
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1 comment
Dr. James Marx
The risk of addiction in Chronic Pain Patients is probably about the same as in the general population-between 10 and 20%. All chronic opioid maintenance patients should be closely monitored for the development of addictive behavior.Some of the surveillence methods are validated questionnaires and body fluid testing to reveal the presence of unprescribed or absence of prescribed drugs.
Dr. Prem Gupta
Neurology
5 doctors agree
In brief: Not necessarily
Physical dependence and addiction have different definitions.
While long term use of opiods will likely cause physical dependence in most patients but not addiction which involves psychological dependence. Addicted person is willing to do illegal, unethical and antisocial activities to obtain opiods while physically dependent person will not.

In brief: Not necessarily
Physical dependence and addiction have different definitions.
While long term use of opiods will likely cause physical dependence in most patients but not addiction which involves psychological dependence. Addicted person is willing to do illegal, unethical and antisocial activities to obtain opiods while physically dependent person will not.
Dr. Prem Gupta
Dr. Prem Gupta
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1 comment
Dr. Neetu Ahluwalia
Use opiods only as needed & discontinued them as soon as possible.
Dr. Karl Spector
Addiction Medicine
3 doctors agree
In brief: Short answer: YES
The fact is that all patients who take narcotic or opiate pain medications are at risk for addiction.
That said, studies suggest that only between 5-15% of patients who take their pain medication for legitimate pain will develop an addiction. Almost all of those will have had dependency issues in the past, even with other substances (this is what some refer to as an "addictive personality?").

In brief: Short answer: YES
The fact is that all patients who take narcotic or opiate pain medications are at risk for addiction.
That said, studies suggest that only between 5-15% of patients who take their pain medication for legitimate pain will develop an addiction. Almost all of those will have had dependency issues in the past, even with other substances (this is what some refer to as an "addictive personality?").
Dr. Karl Spector
Dr. Karl Spector
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Dr. Jason Campbell
Family Medicine
3 doctors agree
In brief: Yes
Since you asked "at risk" then absolutely yes there is a risk for addiction.
Although the true risk for continued opiate use is small, as others have mentioned there are risks for physical dependency and tolerance of the pain medications. I recommend aggressive other therapies such as anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and nerve-modulating medications (like ssris, snris, etc) to help.

In brief: Yes
Since you asked "at risk" then absolutely yes there is a risk for addiction.
Although the true risk for continued opiate use is small, as others have mentioned there are risks for physical dependency and tolerance of the pain medications. I recommend aggressive other therapies such as anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, and nerve-modulating medications (like ssris, snris, etc) to help.
Dr. Jason Campbell
Dr. Jason Campbell
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Dr. Kevin Considine
Family Medicine
3 doctors agree
In brief: No
Although anyone who has taken chronic pain medication, especially opiates is at risk for addiction.
I would say that physical dependency is a more immediate concern. Stopping these medications in someone who has taken them chronically will certainly cause withdrawal symptoms and this could be hazardous. Changing or decreasing pain medication should be done carefully and with doctor's supervison.

In brief: No
Although anyone who has taken chronic pain medication, especially opiates is at risk for addiction.
I would say that physical dependency is a more immediate concern. Stopping these medications in someone who has taken them chronically will certainly cause withdrawal symptoms and this could be hazardous. Changing or decreasing pain medication should be done carefully and with doctor's supervison.
Dr. Kevin Considine
Dr. Kevin Considine
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Dr. Samuel Miles
Psychiatry
2 doctors agree
In brief: Yes
Long term use of opiates carries a risk of addiction.
These drugs are not as effective for chronic pain as for acute pain. Sometimes, pain is actually increased as the brain gets used to these drugs. Other medications, like nerve stabilizers and some antidepressants, are often more effective than narcotics for chronic pain.

In brief: Yes
Long term use of opiates carries a risk of addiction.
These drugs are not as effective for chronic pain as for acute pain. Sometimes, pain is actually increased as the brain gets used to these drugs. Other medications, like nerve stabilizers and some antidepressants, are often more effective than narcotics for chronic pain.
Dr. Samuel Miles
Dr. Samuel Miles
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Dr. Visalakshi Vallury
Family Medicine
2 doctors agree
In brief: No
Chronic pain is a difficult problem that can be treated in a number of ways.
Opiate pain medications (hydrocodone, morphine, Oxycontin etc) can be effective in providing pain relief. They can be associated with dependance and addiction. Other medications are available which can provide relief from pain but generally used to treat other conditions like seizures, depression.

In brief: No
Chronic pain is a difficult problem that can be treated in a number of ways.
Opiate pain medications (hydrocodone, morphine, Oxycontin etc) can be effective in providing pain relief. They can be associated with dependance and addiction. Other medications are available which can provide relief from pain but generally used to treat other conditions like seizures, depression.
Dr. Visalakshi Vallury
Dr. Visalakshi Vallury
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Dr. Neetu Ahluwalia
Pain Management
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
Opioid medications can cause people's bodies to become dependent on them. People become addicted when they exhibit negative behaviors- such as overusing the drugs, having multiple prescribers, etc.

In brief: Yes
Opioid medications can cause people's bodies to become dependent on them. People become addicted when they exhibit negative behaviors- such as overusing the drugs, having multiple prescribers, etc.
Dr. Neetu Ahluwalia
Dr. Neetu Ahluwalia
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Dr. Sarkis Banipalsin
Family Medicine
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
You asked: at risk? Answer is yes but depends.
There are certain risks but can be very low. It depends on the patient, physician and the type of care. Severity of cases, continuity of care, level of response, psycho-social and environmental factors all are important. In case of good pain management, there is a very low risk.

In brief: Yes
You asked: at risk? Answer is yes but depends.
There are certain risks but can be very low. It depends on the patient, physician and the type of care. Severity of cases, continuity of care, level of response, psycho-social and environmental factors all are important. In case of good pain management, there is a very low risk.
Dr. Sarkis Banipalsin
Dr. Sarkis Banipalsin
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Dr. Leonard Spishakoff
Addiction Medicine
1 doctor agrees
In brief: No
However if a concomintant mental health history along with a family history of chemical depndency one must be aware you can screen with a dast questionaire or orf list to better ascertain .
Caution with hyperalgesic phenomenon.

In brief: No
However if a concomintant mental health history along with a family history of chemical depndency one must be aware you can screen with a dast questionaire or orf list to better ascertain .
Caution with hyperalgesic phenomenon.
Dr. Leonard Spishakoff
Dr. Leonard Spishakoff
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Dr. Ernest Bordini
Clinical Psychology
In brief: Can certainly be
As learned members here have indicated narcotics are addictive - in fact amongst the most addictive substances deaths from overdoses have taken over auto accidents as leading cause of death for many ages.
Risk is lower if taken as prescribed and for shorter time periods. Nonetheless it can have a role , but other meds and behavioral strategies also help: http://cpancf.Com/chronic_pain.Asp.

In brief: Can certainly be
As learned members here have indicated narcotics are addictive - in fact amongst the most addictive substances deaths from overdoses have taken over auto accidents as leading cause of death for many ages.
Risk is lower if taken as prescribed and for shorter time periods. Nonetheless it can have a role , but other meds and behavioral strategies also help: http://cpancf.Com/chronic_pain.Asp.
Dr. Ernest Bordini
Dr. Ernest Bordini
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Dr. James Marx
Pain Management
In brief: Yes and No
The incidence of all kinds of addictive behavior is about 5 to 15%, heavily influenced by genetic factors.
Providing a drug to anyone with that tendency increases their risk of becoming dependent upon that class of drug. In other words, if you haven't taken it you're not going to be addicted to it, so the risk is affected in that way.

In brief: Yes and No
The incidence of all kinds of addictive behavior is about 5 to 15%, heavily influenced by genetic factors.
Providing a drug to anyone with that tendency increases their risk of becoming dependent upon that class of drug. In other words, if you haven't taken it you're not going to be addicted to it, so the risk is affected in that way.
Dr. James Marx
Dr. James Marx
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Dr. Dean Giannone
Internal Medicine
In brief: Yes
Narcotic pain medications are addictive plain and simple.
Reduction in their additive potential comes from use of long acting preparations. As well, short acting forms should be used only for severe pains that cannot be relieved by non narcotic medications.

In brief: Yes
Narcotic pain medications are addictive plain and simple.
Reduction in their additive potential comes from use of long acting preparations. As well, short acting forms should be used only for severe pains that cannot be relieved by non narcotic medications.
Dr. Dean Giannone
Dr. Dean Giannone
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1 comment
Dr. Prem Gupta
If we differentiate physical dependence from addiction, then physical dependence is highly likely in long term use of short acting or long acting use of opiods. However the Addiction ( psychological dependence) where medication is used not for pain control but to have pleasurable feeling is far less common.
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