Cue-induced craving in dependence upon prescription opioids and heroin

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Background and Objectives:Cues associated with heroin use (eg, needles, powder) elicit robust craving responses in individuals dependent upon heroin. Elevated cue-induced craving may be a risk factor for relapse and can persist after periods of drug abstinence. Despite the growing prevalence of opioid dependence involving prescription opioids, published studies have yet to examine whether cue-induced craving is also present in prescription opioid dependence.Methods:A sample of 50 adults diagnosed with opioid dependence (20 prescription opioid users, 25 heroin users, and 5 mixed opioid users) completed a cue reactivity assessment. Participants were administered a series of 90 pictures, including heroin-specific, prescription opioid-specific, and neutral images, and were asked to rate craving and cue salience after each image.Results:Both the prescription opioid and heroin groups experienced significantly more craving to drug than to neutral stimuli. The prescription opioid group reported significantly less craving to prescription opioid stimuli than the heroin group to heroin stimuli; however, this effect was smaller and non-significant when controlling for group differences in cue salience.Discussion and Conclusions:This study found evidence for cue-induced craving in individuals dependent upon prescription opioids. Further research is needed to better understand the role of cue reactivity in the course and treatment of opioid dependence involving prescription opioid use.Scientific Significance:As elevated craving reactivity to drug cues may reflect a risk factor for relapse, understanding the nature of cue-induced craving in individuals with opioid dependence is important to improving treatments for this population. (Am J Addict 2014;23:453–458)

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