When prescribed narcotics to manage their pain, some people with arthritis won't consider taking the drugs because they fear addiction. The risk of addiction to prescription narcotic painkillers (also referred to as prescription opioid drugs) has long been debated. Overuse and abuse of narcotics has fueled the debate but is it a legitimate concern for people being treated for chronic pain who would only use the drugs as directed?
According to study results published online October 18, 2012 in Addiction, a review of 17 previous studies involving more than 88,000 people revealed that 4.5% of patients prescribed narcotics to treat chronic pain became addicted. In 10 of the 17 studies, patients used the narcotics to treat chronic pain for 3 months to several years. One study was associated with short-term use and the others did not specify. Researchers concluded that, while addiction can occur, it is not common among those being treated for chronic pain. Certainly, there is an increased risk among those who have a history of substance abuse. Some experts are hesitant to accept the results of the review because of a lack of good quality studies on the subject.
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