BACKGROUND: Previous studies have demonstrated a positive association between smoking and addiction to opioids in patients with chronic non-malignant pain. This could be explained by a susceptibility in some patients to develop addiction. Another explanation could be that nicotine influences both pain and the opioid system. The objective of the study was to investigate whether smoking, former smoking ± nicotine use and nicotine dependence in patients with chronic non-malignant pain were associated with opioid use and addiction to opioids.
METHODS: The study was a cross-sectional study carried out at a multidisciplinary Danish pain centre. All patients aged 18 or more in treatment at the pain centre on the 1st of September 2013 were invited to participate in the study.
RESULTS: A total of 98 patients (65%) participated in the study. The prevalence of current smokers was twice as high as in the general population. The prevalence of patients using opioids was 54% and the prevalence of addiction to opioids was 6%. No significant differences in addiction were found between the different smoking groups, but smokers and former smokers using nicotine tended to use opioids more frequently and at higher doses than never smokers and former smokers not using nicotine.
CONCLUSIONS: The study supports previous evidence that smoking is associated with chronic pain. Our data suggest that information about use of nicotine substitution in chronic non-malignant patients are relevant both in a clinical setting, but also in future studies of the association between smoking habits, pain and opioid use.