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Risk Factors Determine Addictive Behavior

Those with four common risk factors have a significantly higher risk of addiction than others, according to a Geisinger study.

Those with four common risk factors have a significantly higher risk of addiction than others, according to a Geisinger study.

The findings appear Addiction.

The risk factors include: those age 65 or younger, those with a history of drug abuse, those with a history of depression, and those who use psychiatric medications. One in four of these patients are more likely to be addicted to painkillers according to statistics.

“These findings suggest that patients with pre-existing risk factors are more likely to become addicted to painkillers, providing the foundation for further clinical evaluation,” said Joseph Boscarino, PhD, an epidemiologist and senior investigator at Geisinger's Center for Health Research, in an article. “By assessing patients in chronic pain for these risk factors before prescribing painkillers, doctors will be better able to treat their patients' pain without the potential for future drug addiction.”

Additionally, even without a history of chronic pain, patients with these risk factors may still be more likely to become addicted.

The study investigators accessed an electronic database to identify patients with back pain and related orthopedic conditions, who were prescribed painkillers for more than 90 days. The sample size was 705 patients. These patients were interviewed and had their DNA collected to be studied.

The team studied a gene located on chromosome 15 that was implicated in alcohol, cocaine, and cigarette smoking dependencies. The data suggests there is an association of DNA variants in a gene cluster on this chromosome with opioid and nicotine addiction as well.