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Attributes and behaviors associated with opioid seeking in the emergency department

Lisa Chan, MD, Billie Winegard, MPH


Objective: Determine if the attributes and behaviors anecdotally thought to be indicative of drug seeking have statistical association with opioid seeking.
Methods: Data on variables thought to be indicative of drug seeking were retrospectively extracted and compared between two patient groups seen in the Emergency Department between July 1, 2006 and December 31, 2006. Group 1 was considered to have true physical pain, and Group 2 was thought to be seeking opioids.
Results: Seven variables were found to have statistical associations with opioid seeking. There was no chart documentation on absence or presence of six variables.
Conclusions: Significant associations were found between several variables and opioid seeking. A prospective study should be performed so that all variables of interest can be thoroughly studied and a predictive model can be developed to differentiate patients with real pain from drug seekers.


drug seeking, opioid seeking, opioid prescription misuse

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