20 Percent of Prescription Painkiller Users Share Their Drugs
With America's opioid epidemic showing no signs of slowing, a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore finds that more than half of patients who are prescribed opioids end up with leftover tablets, and many patients -- a good percentage of whom are addicts -- save their pills to share or use later with family or friends.
Overdose deaths from opioids -- including prescription painkillers and heroin -- have nearly quadrupled in the United States over the past decade and a half. Prolonged use of opioid medications often leads to addiction, which in turn puts some users at higher risk of an overdose.
In the John Hopkins study, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the data about the sharing of opioids were among the most alarming for the researchers.
"The fact that people are sharing their leftover prescription painkillers at such high rates is a big concern," said senior study author Prof. Colleen L. Barry, Ph.D., quoted at Medical News Today. "It's fine to give a friend a Tylenol if they're having pain, but it's not fine to give your OxyContin to someone without a prescription."