Commentary Article - Journal of Drug and Alcohol Research ( 2023) Volume 12, Issue 3

Comorbidity in Opioid Addiction: A Brief Review

Marcos Altable1*, Juan Moises de la Serna2 and Muhammad Akram3
1Department of Neurology, Neuroceuta, (Virgen de Africa Clinic), Spain
2Department of Education, International University of La Rioja (UNIR), Spain
3Department of Eastern Medicine, Government College University, Pakistan
*Corresponding Author:
Marcos Altable, Department of Neurology, Neuroceuta, (Virgen de Africa Clinic), Spain, Email:

Received: 29-Mar-2023, Manuscript No. JDAR-23-99440; Editor assigned: 31-Mar-2023, Pre QC No. JDAR-23-99440 (PQ); Reviewed: 14-Apr-2023, QC No. JDAR-23-99440; Revised: 19-Apr-2023, Manuscript No. JDAR-23-99440 (R); Published: 26-Apr-2023, DOI: 10.4303/JDAR/236233


Opioid addiction is a complex disease that can have multiple comorbidities, or the presence of other disorders alongside the addiction. These comorbidities can worsen the prognosis of opioid addiction and can make treatment more challenging. This article will review the literature on comorbidities in opioid addiction and their impact on treatment outcomes.


Opioid addiction; Comorbidity; Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Psychiatric disorders


Opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder, is a complex condition that can have comorbidities, meaning it often occurs alongside other medical or psychiatric conditions. Comorbidity refers to the presence of 2 or more disorders or illnesses in the same person, occurring concurrently or one after the other. The most common comorbidities in opioid addiction are mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A study by Lasser et al. (2000) found that 35% of opioid addicts had a comorbid mental health disorder [1]. Another study by Schaefer et al. (2016) found that 58% of opioid addicts had at least one comorbid mental health disorder [2].


Underlying mechanisms

The relationship between opioid addiction and comorbid psychiatric disorders involves complex interactions and shared underlying mechanisms.

Neurobiological factor

Common neurobiological pathways, such as dysregulation of the reward system, stress response, and neurotransmitter systems, may contribute to both opioid addiction and psychiatric disorders.

• Self-medication hypothesis-individuals with psychiatric disorders may use opioids as a form of self-medication to alleviate symptoms of their underlying condition, leading to the development of addiction.

• Genetic factors-shared genetic vulnerabilities may contribute to the co-occurrence of opioid addiction and psychiatric disorders, highlighting the importance of genetic predisposition in susceptibility to both conditions.


Mental health disorders can worsen the symptoms of opioid addiction, such as cravings and withdrawal, and can make it more difficult for individuals to remain in treatment. For example, a study by Sullivan et al. (2005) found that individuals with comorbid PTSD had worse treatment outcomes than those without PTSD [3].

Another common comorbidity in opioid addiction is chronic pain. A study by Rosenblum et al. (2003) found that 48% of opioid addicts had chronic pain [4,5]. Chronic pain can lead individuals to seek opioids for pain relief, which can then lead to addiction. Additionally, chronic pain can make it more difficult for individuals to stop using opioids and can increase the risk of relapse.

Opioid use can disrupt normal sleep patterns, leading to sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea. Chronic sleep disturbances can further contribute to overall health problems and decrease quality of life.

Opioid misuse can lead to respiratory depression and other respiratory complications. Individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), may experience worsened symptoms as a result of opioid addiction.

Other comorbidities in opioid addiction include infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and physical health disorders, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease. A study by Zaller et al. (2013) found that 21% of opioid addicts had hepatitis C, and a study by Chen et al. (2014) found that 8% of opioid addicts had COPD [6-8].

Comorbidities can also impact the type of treatment that is needed for opioid addiction. For example, individuals with comorbid mental health disorders may benefit from treatment that addresses both the addiction and the mental health disorder, such as integrated treatment or dual diagnosis treatment. Additionally, individuals with chronic pain may benefit from non-opioid pain management strategies, such as physical therapy or acupuncture.


It is important to note that the presence of comorbidities can complicate the treatment and management of opioid addiction. Comorbidities are common in opioid addiction and can worsen the prognosis of the addiction. Mental health disorders, chronic pain, and infectious and physical health disorders are among the most common comorbidities in opioid addiction. Treatment that addresses both the addiction and the comorbidities is often necessary for successful outcomes. A comprehensive and integrated treatment approach, including medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapies, and appropriate management of comorbid conditions, is often necessary to promote recovery and improve overall well-being. Healthcare professionals should consider the unique needs and circumstances of each individual when developing a comprehensive treatment plan.



Conflict of Interest

Authors have no conflict of interest to declare.


Copyright: © 2023 Marcos Altable, et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.