Opioid, benzodiazepine misuse tied to suicidal thinking in elders

  • Schepis TS & al.
  • Int J Geriatr Psychiatry
  • 16 Oct 2018

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • One-quarter of elderly patients who misused both prescription opioids and benzodiazepines in the past year reported suicidal ideation, significantly higher than elderly people who did not abuse the drugs.

Why this matters

  • The findings point to the need for clinicians to screen more closely for opioid and benzodiazepine misuse in elderly patients, and to monitor for suicidality in patients found to misuse the substances.

Study design

  • 17,114 adults (aged, ≥50 years) who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2015 and 2016 were evaluated.
  • Funding: National Cancer Institute; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Key results

  • Past-year suicidal ideation was reported by 25.4% of older adults who misused both opioids and benzodiazepines.
  • Misuse vs no misuse of both opioids and benzodiazepines was significantly associated with increased odds of suicidal ideation (aOR, 4.53; P=.002).
  • Significant association was observed between past‐year suicidal ideation and past‐year misuse of opioids (aOR, 1.84; P=.03) and benzodiazepines (aOR, 2.00; P=.046).
  • No such association was observed between past‐year use without misuse of prescription opioids (aOR, 1.00; P=.99) or benzodiazepines (aOR, 1.06; P=.74).

Limitations

  • Self-reported bias.
  • Cross-sectional data.

Coauthored with Antara Ghosh, PhD

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