People with ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) that have taken stimulant medications for a long time also have a higher likelihood of being on an opioid for the long term.
Researchers looked at a sample of more than 66,000 Medicaid enrollees diagnosed with ADHD. About one-third of those adults – 21,723 — were on a stimulant medication. Of those on a stimulant, 16.5% were also long-term users of an opioid, according to results published in JAMA Network Open.
Researchers noted that concurrent use of stimulants and opioids is a concern because people with ADHD are at an elevated risk of developing prescription drug abuse.
Long-term opioid use was more common in adults with ADHD who used stimulants compared to those who didn’t. Long-term stimulant-opioid use was more common in older individuals, Caucasians and those with a pain, anxiety disorder or substance abuse diagnosis.
“Our study contributes to the understanding of the potential risk factors associated with long-term concurrent stimulant-opioid use among adults with ADHD,” the researchers wrote. “Identifying these high-risk patients allows for early intervention and may reduce the number of adverse events associated with the long-term use of these medications.”