Opioids Can Bring Down Use of Antipsychotics in Alzheimer's Patients

Published Date : Mar 27, 2018

A study from the University of Eastern Finland has recently suggested that opioids could help people with Alzheimer's disease reduce their intake of benzodiazepines and antipsychotics. A variety of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines are often prescribed to Alzheimer's patients for treating psychiatric and behavioral symptoms of dementia.

The researchers examined the use of benzodiazepines and antipsychotics in Alzheimer's patients six months before and after the patients started using an opioid. The results from this stage of study were compared with Alzheimer’s patients who did not use opioid. In patients who used opioids, researchers found out that post the initiation of opioids a downward trend was observed in the use of both benzodiazepines and antipsychotics, with the use of antipsychotics seeing more reduction.

Benzodiazepines and antipsychotics are often prescribed to people with Alzheimer's, but these drugs carry a risk for severe and adverse effects, and a long-term prescription of these drugs is not generally recommended. Earlier studies have demonstrated that when Alzheimer’s patients are treated for pain, there is a reduction in psychiatric and behavioral symptoms.

The new study, for the first time, shows that such treatment could effectively bring down the use of symptomatic drugs. The study also happens to be the first nationwide research analyzing this aspect of treating dementia. The results of the study are a further confirmation of the importance of proper treatment and diagnosis of pain concerning with dementia patients. The research is a part of the Medicine use and Alzheimer's disease (MEDALZ) study, which covered 3,327 Alzheimer's patients diagnosed over the period between 2010 and 2011. Information for the said research was derived from Finnish nationwide registers.