Battaglia, M., Groenewald, C. B., Campbell, F., Scaini, S., De Koninck, Y., Stinson, J., & Quinn, P. D. (2023) We need to talk: The urgent conversation on chronic pain, mental health, prescribing patterns and the opioid crisis. 2023 – Journal of Psychopharmacology, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp. 437-448.


The opioid crisis’ pathways from first exposure onwards to eventual illnesses and fatalities are multiple, intertwined and difficult to dissect. Here, we offer a multidisciplinary appraisal of the relationships among mental health, chronic pain, prescribing patterns worldwide and the opioid crisis. Because the opioid crisis’ toll is especially harsh on young people, emphasis is given on data regarding the younger strata of the population. Because analgesic opioid prescription constitute a recognised entry point towards misuse, opioid use disorder, and ultimately overdose, prescribing patterns across different countries are examined as a modifiable hazard factor along these pathways of risk. Psychiatrists are called to play a more compelling role in this urgent conversation, as they are uniquely placed to provide synthesis and lead action among the different fields of knowledge and care that lie at the crossroads of the opioid crisis. Psychiatrists are also ideally positioned to gauge and disseminate the foundations for diagnosis and clinical management of mental conditions associated with chronic pain, including the identification of hazardous and protective factors. It is our hope to spark more interdisciplinary exchanges and encourage psychiatrists worldwide to become leaders in an urgent conversation with interlocutors from the clinical and basic sciences, policy makers and stakeholders including clients and their families.