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Evidence suggests that some serious risks of long-term opioid therapy may be dose-dependent

Long-term is associated with increased risk for serious harms – some of which may be dose-dependent – according to a published in .

Prescriptions of for (pain lasting longer than 3 months past the normal time for tissue healing) have increased dramatically, as have prescription opioid overdose, abuse, addiction, and diversion. Since most opioid trials do not extend beyond 6 weeks, they are of limited relevance for aiding clinical decision-making regarding long-term opioid use.

Researchers conducted a systematic review of published research to evaluate evidence on the effectiveness and harms of long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain in adults. They found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of long-term opioid therapy for improving pain and function. Serious harms of long-term therapy, such as risk for overdose and abuse and fractures, seemed to depend on opioid dose.

Article doi: 10.7326/M14-2559


Source: American College of Physicians