Individuals who have experienced traumatic brain injury have been linked to higher misuse of prescriptions and opioid abuse, Rachel Sayko Adams (HELLER) found in a Brandeis study that looked at associations between opioid misuse and individuals who’ve experienced traumatic brain injuries, according to a Medical Press Article.
The purpose of the study was to observe the “association of lifetime history of traumatic brain injury (TBI) with prescription opioid use and misuse among noninstitutionalized adults,” according to the study.
The data set observed in the study is from the Ohio Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) which is a surveying system that tracks adults’, 18 years of age and older, health practices, conditions and risk behavior, according to the BRFSS page. The data is open to the public, the sample observed in Adams’ research was from a 2018 cohort of individuals who completed a prescription opioid and lifetime history of traumatic brain injury modules, according to the study.
The results found that having a lifetime history of traumatic brain injury is significantly associated with prescription opioid use and misuse, according to the study. The study controlled for demographics in their results including sex, age, race, ethnicity and marital status of the participants in the study.
The study revealed that individuals with traumatic brain injury had a 50 percent higher risk for using prescription opioids in the past year than individuals who had not experienced a traumatic brain injury. Another result of the study found that individuals with traumatic brain injury had a 65 percent higher risk for prescription opioid misuse in comparison to adults without traumatic brain injury, according to the study.
From the sample analyzed, 22.8 percent of adults in the sample were identified as having a lifetime history of traumatic brain injury. 25.5 percent of the sample reported having prescription opioid use in the past yet and 3.1 percent were considered to have misused prescription opioids, according to the study.
The results support the “perfect storm hypothesis”, according to the study. The “perfect storm hypothesis” claims that individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury are at a higher risk for exposure to opioids and consequently misusing opioid prescriptions in comparison to individuals without a history of traumatic brain injury, according to the study.
A potential takeaway from these results is to have routine screening for a lifetime of traumatic brain injury, monitoring individuals through screenings can help medical professionals target those who are at a higher risk for opioid misuse to better prevent the misuse of prescriptions, according to the study. The study recommends that rehabilitation clinicians should begin routine screening for potential substance use or misuse when treating patients with a history of traumatic brain injury.
The conclusions of the study also suggest a potential for a faster acceleration of dependence on prescription opioids by individuals with traumatic brain injury, due to the “highly addictive nature” of opioids.
“While there has been increasing concern for individuals with TBI who are prescribed opioids, our study is among the first to assess a lifetime history of TBI in relation to prescription opioid use and misuse among noninstitutionalized adults,” according to the study.
The study notes that previous research has focused on using pharmacy data including orders and fills of prescriptions. The problem with doing this means that the data does not necessarily accurately portray medication use, according to the study.