Mindfulness predicts current risk of opioid analgesic misuse in chronic low back pain patients receiving opioid therapy

Yolanda R. Villarreal, Angela L. Stotts, Samantha Megan Paniagua, Kristen Rosen, Maxim Eckmann, Robert Suchting, Jennifer Sharpe Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Acceptance and mindfulness processes indicating psychological flexibility may be important mechanisms in chronic pain adaptation; however, their association with opioid analgesic misuse (OA) risk is unclear. The present study investigated the extent to which psychological flexibility is associated with OA misuse risk within a chronic low back pain population on long-term opioid therapy. Methods: Participants were 156 patients presenting for treatment at an academic pain clinic. Aspects of psychological flexibility were assessed using the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) and the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire II (AAQ II). The Current Opioid Misuse Measure (COMM) determined heightened risk of opioid analgesic misuse. Participants were 59% female, 48.3 years old on average (SD = 9.8), and largely White, Hispanic. Results: Nested multiple linear regression indicated that the higher mindfulness levels predicted opioid misuse risk while controlling for pain severity, pain-related interference, pain anxiety, and acceptance. The full regression model predicted 54% of the variance in OA misuse risk. Conclusion: Results suggest that psychological flexibility, particularly mindfulness processes, may be important in predicting and mitigating OA misuse risks among chronic pain patients. Non-pharmacological interventions are critical to addressing the current opioid misuse crisis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Contextual Behavioral Science
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Chronic pain
  • Mindfulness
  • Opioid misuse risk
  • Psychological flexibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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