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Problematic opioid use in the Norwegian general population and in HUNT 3: A register linkage and a prospective cohort study.

Tildelt: kr 5,1 mill.

It is unknown as to how many people have problematic use of potentially addictive prescription drugs, which in Norway include opioids, benzodiazepines, and hypnotics. In the United States this is an invisible problem which is considered to be the second m ost widespread drug abuse, second only to the abuse of cannabis. Studies have found that in USA opioids are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. An effective drug control policy is hampered by the lack of knowledge of the extent and distribution o f prescriptions indicating abuse as well as the proportion of persistent prescriptions of potentially addictive drugs in accordance with recommended guidelines. In this project the aim is to target the extent of persistent problematic opioid prescript ions indicating abuse by using the Norwegian prescription database. High doses, co-medication with other potentially addictive drugs and doctor shopping will be investigated. A five year follow up of all Norwegians who dispense prescribed opioids will be carried out comparing them with patients using NSAIDs. When linking this database to a health survey of almost 50.000 people (HUNT3), it is possible to characterize those receiving opioids indicating possible abuse with regard to a great variety of factor s such as socioeconomic status, psychological and somatic health and use of alcohol. Finally a prospective cohort study (PainHUNT) of persons having severe chronic pain will be carried out in order to compare those who use opioids with those who do not. It will be established a long lasting collaboration between Pain and Palliation Research group at the NTNU, Section of Pharmacoepidemiology at Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norwegian Centre for Addiction Research at the UIO and National centre fo r complex disorders. This collaborative aims to improve the scientific knowledge regarding the extent of the use and abuse of prescriptions for opioids and the co-medication of opioids with other addictive drugs.