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Rauschert, C., Seitz, N.-N., Olderbak, S., Pogarell, O., Dreischulte, T., Kraus, L.

Abuse of non-opioid analgesics in Germany: prevalence and associations among self-medicated users


Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2022.864389

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Background: Abuse of non-opioid analgesics (NOA) is associated with serious health consequences. However, due to inconsistent definitions of NOA abuse, prevalence estimates for the German population are unclear.

Objectives: This study aimed to estimate the 12-month prevalence of NOA abuse among self-medicated users of these drugs in the general German population and to identify risk factors.

Methods: Data are from the 2015 Epidemiological Survey of Substance Abuse, a nationally representative sample with 9,204 individuals aged 18–64 years. Classification of NOA abuse was based on self-reported information according to the definition of the ICD-10-GM diagnosis F55.2 abuse of non-dependence producing substances. Multiple logistic regression was performed to examine associations between NOA abuse and sociodemographic, behavioral, and health-related variables.

Results: The weighted 12-month prevalence of NOA abuse was 14.6% (95%-CI [13.2- 16.0]) among self-medicated users of these drugs. Extrapolation of the proportion of individuals abusing NOA to the German population aged 18 to 64 is 3,243,396 individuals or 6.4% (95%-CI [5.7- 7.1]). Inexplicable physical pain, being underweight, depression, hazardous alcohol use, daily smoking, illegal drug use, and frequent use of NOA (one or more times per week and daily use) were associated with an increased probability of NOA abuse. The use of cannabis was associated with a lower probability of NOA abuse.

Conclusion: Abuse of NOA is highly prevalent in the German population. Against the background of increasing self-medication of NOA, healthcare providers need to be aware of potential risk factors of abuse to better identify and prevent this problem.

Gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Gesundheit