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Study shows range of psychological and physical problems in opioid-addicted MS patients

Addiction to opioids increases the risk of several physical and psychological problems in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a new study has found.

The study, “Impact of opium dependency on clinical and neuropsychological indices of multiple sclerosis patients,” was published in the journal Neurological Sciences.

Opioids, a class of drug derived from the poppy plant, are powerful painkillers and are sometimes prescribed to people with MS to help them cope with pain. However, opioids can also be highly addictive, and this addiction can cause a multitude of physical, social, and mental health problems for MS patients taking them.

In the study, Iranian researchers sought to investigate the impact of opium addiction on depression, anxiety and cognitive and clinical indices in MS patients. The team recruited 40 men and women with MS who were addicted to opioids (average age 34 years), and 40 with MS, who weren’t addicted to opioids (average age of 33 years) to a study centre in Iran.

Participants underwent a series of psychological and clinical tests. Results showed that, on average, MS participants addicted to opioids had significantly more anxiety, as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory than MS patients without opioid addiction.

Opioid-addicted patients also had significantly worse cognitive skills, as measured by the Wisconsin Card-Sorting Test and significantly higher scores on a word-pair learning test in which higher scores indicate poorer working memory.

In addition, opioid-addicted participants had significantly higher fatigue (measured by the Fatigue Severity Scale), and significantly lower scores on the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite, which is indicative of a greater functional impact on the participants’ lives.

Taken together, “the results of this study showed that the rate of anxiety, fatigue and some neuropsychological disorders might increase following opium dependency in MS patients although no significant effect on the disability progression was seen,” the researchers wrote.

Source: MS-UK 15/08/2019

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