Opioid use among psychiatric hospital patients needs to be addressed through an integrated approach to managing mental illness, pain and substance use, a study by researchers at the University of Waterloo has found.
The study found that 7.5 per cent of 165,434 patients admitted to psychiatric hospitals in Ontario between 2006 and 2017 had used opioids in the year prior to admission, which compares to estimates that 2 per cent of the general population used opioids in 2015. Among patients who said they experience daily pain, the percentage who reported opiate use jumped to 22 per cent.
“The patterns of use we saw are problematic,” said Christopher Perlman, a public health researcher. “Opiate use is strongly linked to pain, mental health conditions and use of other drugs. While we don’t know how many patients were initially prescribed an opioid for pain, we do know that a large number of patients reporting pain in psychiatry also have an addiction concern.”