A previous study from the US reported an association between high cumulative doses of opioids and an increased risk of dementia, but the Finnish study does not confirm this finding.
‘Several adverse effects are related to opioid use, such as drowsiness and reduced alertness but it may not increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.’
However, several adverse effects are related to opioid use, such as drowsiness and reduced alertness, and for this reason, opioid use should be restricted to the most severe pain conditions only. Opioid use may also lead to addiction or tolerance to pain-relieving effects.
Opioid use was compared between Finnish persons with Alzheimer's disease and their control persons without the disease. The study was part of the nationwide register-based MEDALZ study and included 70,718 persons diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in Finland during 2005-2011, as well as 282,862 control persons.