Identification and management of pain medication abuse and misuse: Current state and future directions

Craig T. Hartrick, Robert J. Gatchel, Sean Conroy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Long-term opioid therapy poses a risk for abuse and misuse in some patients. Identifying which patients may potentially be at risk prior to initiation of therapy, and identifying patients in whom these problems develop during therapy, are significant challenges. Outcome prediction is impeded by the complexity of the problem, where considerable heterogeneity results from psychological and socioeconomic factors, as well as interindividual variation in biological pathways due to genetic and epigenetic factors. Screening tools designed to detect opioid misuse and urine drug testing are both used clinically; scant evidence currently exists to allow the formulation of an algorithm for judicious use of these tools. Moreover, these tools may not be addressing the underlying alterations in biological pathways that occur owing to the development of chronic pain or in response to chronic opioid administration. An evidence-based algorithmic approach to risk mitigation that can be applied in a cost-effective manner to guide therapy is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-610
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • opioid abuse
  • opioid misuse
  • outcome prediction
  • pain medication questionnaire
  • screening tools
  • urine drug testing


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