The casual abuse of prescription opioids has more than doubled over a decade. A new study from the National Institutes of Health states nearly 10 million Americans – 4.1 percent of the adult population – used opioid medications in 2013 without a prescription or not as prescribed. This is up from 1.8 percent in 2002.
More than 11 percent of the population self-reported misusing prescription opioids at some point in their lives – that’s a considerable increase from 4.7 percent ten years ago.
Addiction has also substantially increased during this time with more than 2 million adults exhibiting a problem with opioid abuse. Drug poisoning deaths have quadrupled.
“The increasing misuse of prescription opioid pain relievers poses a myriad of serious public health consequences,” said Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “These include increases in opioid use disorders and related fatalities from overdoses, as well as the rising incidence of newborns who experience neonatal abstinence syndrome. In some instances, prescription opioid misuse can progress to intravenous heroin use with consequent increases in risk for HIV, hepatitis C and other infections among individuals sharing needles.”
The study appears online today in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.