Long-Term Opium Use Shown to Increase Mortality Rate

Long-Term Opium Use Shown to Increase Mortality Rate

Opium can often be the drug of choice in whatever form for those individuals seeking to escape challenges in life. With long term use, however, new and deadly challenges can emerge. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that long-term use of the drug can increase the chances of dying from a number of major medical events by 100 percent.

This Medical News Today report highlights the findings of this study, pointing to such causes as circulatory diseases as well as cancer and respiratory conditions that can result from the long-term use of opium. When the drug is used in the management of chronic pain over the course of several years, the patient may be trading pain for a shortened life.

The study took place in Iran as opium consumption is common in the area, yet irresponsible consumption is a problem the world over. In fact, nearly 20 million individuals throughout the world rely on opium or its derivatives to treat a variety of ailments. The BMJ study is the first to analyze the risks of mortality in users as compared with non-users.

More than 50,000 adults, aged 40 to 75 and living in Golestan Province, participated in the study, which lasted five years. Of the 50,045 adults, 17 percent, or 8,487 reported using opium for an average of 12.7 years. The reported deaths during the study period numbered 2,145.

Previous studies have suggested that opium could play a role in such things as throat cancer, bladder cancer and coronary heart disease. To date, however, researchers are still unsure as to the overall effects the drug can have on mortality when low-doses are consumed over a long period of time.

Researchers in this study assumed a direct association with opium, estimating that 15 percent of all deaths within the studied population are the direct result of opium use. To further support the association between long-term opium use and increase mortality rates, experts suggest additional research is necessary.

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