10 Opioid Myths and Facts

December 16, 2016
Steven A. King, MD, MS

Do you know the myths from the facts about opioid analgesics? Click through these 10 statements and find out.

Among current viewpoints on opioid analgesics, there are those who adopt one of these two: either physicians are over- prescribing opioids, contributing to an epidemic of abuse of these drugs or these drugs are being over-regulated, leading to suffering among patients who have legitimate pain problems and cannot receive appropriate and needed therapies.Unfortunately, there are many myths perpetuated about opioid drugs themselves and how they are used and misused. The slides above present 10 statements that are either one of the most common myths in circulation or a fact about opioid analgesics and their use.We hope the slide show will perhaps challenge an assumption you hold or confirm your knowledge around this sensitive issue. References to support statements are below.


1. Dowell D, Haegerich, et al. CDC Guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain - United States, 2016.  MMWR. 2016;65:1-150. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=mmwr+recomm+rep+2016+Mar+18%3B65(1)%3A1-49.

2. Vowles KE, McEntee ML, Julnes PS , et al. Rates of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in chronic pain: a systematic review and data synthesis. Pain. 2015:156:569-576 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Pain.+2015%3A156%3A569-576

3. Shaheed CA, Maher CG, Williams KA, et al. Efficacy, tolerability and dose-dependent effects of opioid analgesics for low back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Intern Med. 2016:176:958-968. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2522397

4. Smith HS. Opioid metabolism. Mayo Clin Proc. 2009;84:613-624. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704133/

5. Compton WM, Jones CM, et al. Relationship between nonmedical prescription-opioid use and heroin use. N Engl J Med;2016374:154-163. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1508490

6. Roselle N, Holquist C, Phillips J. FDA Safety Page. Confusion between methylphenidate and methadone. Available at:

7. Gilron I, Dongshen T, Holder RR, et al. Combination of morphine with nortriptyline for neuropathic pain. Pain. 2015;156:1440-1448. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Pain.+2015%3B156%3A1440-1448. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Pain.+2015%3B156%3A1440-1448.

8. Morasco BJ, O'Hearn D, Turk DC, et al. Associations between prescription opioid use and sleep impairment among veterans with chronic pain. Pain Med. 2014;15:1902-1910. http://painmedicine.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/11/1902.long



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