Clinical Research Papers:

Pain of methadone-maintained heroin addicts: lonelier individuals feel more intense pain

Fu Li, Yan-Min Xu, Jun-Hong Zhu, Jin Lu _ and Bao-Liang Zhong

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:79948-79952. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20387

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Fu Li1, Yan-Min Xu1, Jun-Hong Zhu1, Jin Lu2 and Bao-Liang Zhong1

1Affiliated Wuhan Mental Health Center (The Ninth Clinical School), Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China

2Department of Psychiatry, The First Affiliated Hospital of Kunming Medical University, Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

Correspondence to:

Jin Lu, email: [email protected]

Bao-Liang Zhong, email: [email protected]

Keywords: pain, loneliness, heroin addiction, methadone

Received: June 10, 2017     Accepted: August 06, 2017     Published: August 22, 2017


Managing pain in patients with heroin addiction is challenging, because most pain medications are addictive. A promising way to relieve pain of heroin addicts is to identify and address modifiable psychosocial factors associated with pain. This study examined the association between loneliness and pain intensity in Chinese heroin addicts receiving methadone maintenance treatment (MMT). A consecutive sample of 603 heroin addicts were recruited from three MMT clinics in Wuhan, China. Loneliness was assessed with a single question, and socio-demographic and clinical data were collected with a standardized questionnaire. Pain intensity was assessed with the five-point Verbal Rating Scale. Multiple ordinary logistic regression was used to control for potential confounders that may bias the loneliness-pain relationship. There was a significant and positive correlation between pain intensity and loneliness scores among methadone-maintained heroin addicts (r = 0.453, P < 0.001). After controlling for potential socio-demographic and clinical confounders, an increase in the level of loneliness was significantly associated with an increase in pain intensity (OR = 1.22, P = 0.042). Loneliness is significantly associated with pain of methadone-maintained heroin addicts. Psychosocial interventions aimed at reducing loneliness might prevent or reduce pain of patients receiving MMT.

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