opioid interactions with other drugs

A recent study suggests several strategies to overcome opioid interactions with other drugs in the treatment of chronic pain.

A recent study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association describes opioid interactions with other drugs. Commonly prescribed drugs, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, cardiovascular medications, and many others change the metabolic pathway of opioids in the body and reduce their analgesic effect. As a result, opioids might be taken more frequently and at higher doses than prescribed, which can lead to addiction and overdose.

The researchers estimated that approximately 30% of opioid users with chronic pain face these interactions, but only a few of them are recognized, leading to the need for greater public awareness and action.

To overcome the problem of opioid interactions with other drugs, the authors of the article suggested some strategies that can be taken by physicians and patients.

Firstly, it is suggested to stay away from opioid drugs as much as possible and manage chronic pain with a cornerstone of osteopathic care – non-pharmacological therapies, such as exercise, massage, progressive relaxation, acupuncture, and other methods. Then, non-opioid drugs should be taken into consideration.

Many people take all their prescribed drugs at a certain time of the day, usually with breakfast, to ensure compliance with medications. Even though this routine is convenient, the chances of drug interaction are increased significantly. The researchers recommend taking opioid drugs first and at least two to four hours apart from other medications. This administration can be helpful in mitigating drug interactions. If this timing method fails, the administration of alternative opioids with less chance of interaction can be considered.

Patients should never alter the timing or dosage of their medications without direction from their physician. A thorough patient medication history should also be recorded to avoid any unintentional drug interactions.

“The possible combinations that might result in a drug interaction are vast,” said Kevin Bain, the lead author of the article. “The best approach is for physicians and patients to partner closely with a pharmacist who can advise on potential complications, especially at the start of an opioid prescription.”


Written by Anna Otvodenko



Bain, K. and Knowlton, C. (2019). Role of Opioid-Involved Drug Interactions in Chronic Pain Management. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 119(12), p.839.

EurekAlert!. (2019). Researchers say 30% of patients taking opioids experience adverse drug interactions. [online] Available at: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-12/aoa-rs3121019.php [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].

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