Public Release: 

Chronic narcotic use is high among kids with IBD

American Gastroenterological Association

Bethesda, MD (Feb. 9, 2015) -- Chronic narcotic use is more than twice as prevalent in children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), compared with children without this disease, according to a new study1 published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association.

"Chronic narcotic use is common in pediatric IBD patients, particularly among those with anxiety and depression," said lead study author Jessie P. Buckley, PhD, MPH, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "Describing the characteristics of children with IBD using long-term narcotics is important to define the magnitude of this problem in the pediatric population and to identify potential strategies or interventions to reduce narcotic use."

Researchers conducted a large cross-sectional study to compare chronic use of narcotics among children with IBD and children in the general population, and investigate factors associated with narcotic use in the pediatric IBD population. The study included 4,344 IBD children (younger than 18 years old), each matched for age, sex and region with five children without IBD (a total of 21,720 children). The study found that 5.6 percent of IBD children had at least three prescriptions for a narcotic medication during a two-year period, compared with 2.3 percent of children without IBD.

Compared with the general population, chronic narcotic use was significantly higher for pediatric IBD patients with psychological impairment than those without. Older age, increased health-care utilization, fracture and psychological impairment were also strongly associated with chronic use of narcotics among children with IBD. Increased use of narcotics with greater health-care utilization indicates that narcotic use may be a marker for severe disease.

Narcotics may be prescribed to patients with IBD, which encompasses Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, for temporary pain relief, such as to treat an acute flare or alleviate pain after surgery. Long-term narcotic use among children with IBD is not recommended because of GI side effects, disease complications and potential for dependency.


Read more about this study on the AGA Journals Blog.

Learn more about IBD in the AGA patient brochure.

Support for this study was provided by GlaxoSmithKline.

1 Buckley, Jessie P., et al. Prevalence of Chronic Narcotic Use Among Children With Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Volume 13(2): 310-315.e2,

About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to include more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization.

About Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology

The mission of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology is to provide readers with a broad spectrum of themes in clinical gastroenterology and hepatology. This monthly peer-reviewed journal includes original articles as well as scholarly reviews, with the goal that all articles published will be immediately relevant to the practice of gastroenterology and hepatology. For more information, visit

Like AGA and Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology on Facebook.
Join AGA on LinkedIn.
Follow us on Twitter @AmerGastroAssn.
Check out our videos on YouTube.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.