Opioid use and misuse in ulcerative colitis.


Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Roanoke, VA 24016, United States. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) may be exposed to opioids over their disease duration. The use of such medications carries significant risk, including intestinal dysmotility and potential for addiction. However, the rates of narcotic use and misuse in patients with UC have not been studied extensively. Functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) are prevalent in patients with UC, and have been shown to increase the risk of narcotic use and misuse in patients with Crohn's disease. We hypothesized that patients with UC and a concurrent diagnosis of FGID would have increased rates of both opioid use and misuse in our patient cohort.
OBJECTIVE : To evaluate the prevalence of chronic opioid use and misuse in UC.
METHODS : A retrospective chart review of UC patients seen at the University of Virginia Digestive Health Center was performed on all patients evaluated between 2006 and 2011. Patient demographics, medical, surgical, and medication histories were obtained from the electronic medical record. Concomitant diagnosis of FGID was also noted at the time. The electronic prescription monitoring program was accessed to obtain prescription opioid filling histories. Prescription opioid misuse was defined as opioid prescriptions filled from four or more prescribers and four or more different pharmacies in a 12-mo period.
RESULTS : A total of 497 patients with UC were included. Patients with UC and FGID were more likely to be female, but no other demographic variables were associated with FGID. Of the UC patients who had FGID, a greater proportion were found to be using opioids chronically (36% with FGID vs 9% without FGID, P < 0.0001) and were misusing prescription opioids (12.8% vs 1.3%, P < 0.001). Multivariate logistic regression demonstrated a significant association with FGID and chronic opioid use (OR = 4.50; 95%CI: 1.91-10.59) and opioid misuse (OR = 5.19; 95%CI 1.04-25.76). Tobacco use (OR 2.53; 95%CI: 1.06-6.08) and anxiety (OR 3.17; 95%CI: 1.08-9.26) were other variables associated with an increased risk of chronic narcotic use.
CONCLUSIONS : FGID was associated with a 4.5-fold increase in chronic opioid use and a 5-fold increased risk of opioid misuse in this patient cohort with UC.


Chronic opioid use,Functional gastrointestinal disorder,Narcotic,Opioid misuse,Ulcerative colitis,