Smoking Status and Opioid-related Problems and Concerns Among Men and Women on Chronic Opioid Therapy

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Abstract

Objectives:

Smokers on chronic opioid therapy (COT) for noncancer pain use prescription opioids at higher dosages and are at increased risk for opioid misuse and dependence relative to nonsmokers. The current study aims to assess whether smoking is associated with problems and concerns with COT from the perspective of the patient.

Materials and Methods:

In a large sample (N=972) of adult patients prescribed opioids for chronic noncancer pain, we examined sex-specific associations between smoking status and patient perceptions of problems and concerns with COT using regression analyses, adjusting for covariates.

Results:

The sample self-identified as 27% current smokers, 44% former smokers, and 29% never smokers. Current smoking (vs. never smoking) was associated with increased odds of an opioid use disorder among males and females, and higher daily opioid dose among males only. Current and former smokers reported significantly fewer problems with opioids relative to never smokers, and this was driven primarily by lower endorsement of problems that are affected by the stimulant properties of nicotine (eg, difficulties thinking clearly, felt less alert or sleepy).

Discussion:

This study contributes to an understanding of perceived problems and concerns with COT among current, former, and never smokers with chronic noncancer pain. Results suggest that current and former smokers may be a difficult population to target to decrease COT, given that they perceive fewer problems with prescription opioid use, despite higher odds of having an opioid use disorder (males and females) and greater opioid doses (males only).

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