Non-Medical Use of Prescription Opioids Now an “Epidemic”

Abuse of prescription opioids has become an "epidemic."

That's the conclusion of a new study, published in JAMA, which reported that in 2013, the number of deaths from non-medical use of opioid painkillers totaled 16,200, compared to 14,774 deaths from all other illicit drug use.

Researchers analyzed data from 472,200 participants in the 2003-2013 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health. They found increased trends in dependence, morbidity and mortality rates of prescription opioids. Specifically:

  • Dependence rose from 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent from 2003 to 2013 in people over 12 years of age
  • Associated ER visits rose from 82.4 to 184.1 per 100,000 from 2004 to 2011.
  • Deaths related to opioid use rose from 1.4 to 5.1 per 100,000 from 1999 to 2013
  • Opioid overdose deaths rose from 4.5 per 100,000 in 2003 to 7.8 per 100,000 in 2013.

Disorders were more common among non-Hispanic white users, although the most frequent users of prescription opioids were non-Hispanic black people.

Disorders also were more common among people without a high school diploma, those who were disabled for work, people with major depressive episodes, those without health insurance and those with Medicaid coverage rather than private health insurance.

Every day, 44 people in the U.S. die from overdose of prescription painkillers.

This Week's Slice of History: Columbus Discovers Tobacco: Oct. 15, 1492

Sourced from: Medical News Today, Epidemic in disorders related to prescription opioids