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Prescription Opioid Overdose Deaths Are Up, But Misuse Is Down

Prescription Opioid Overdose

In the United States, non-medical prescription opioid use disorders and overdose deaths are the rise, according to a new study.

Researchers behind the study, which was published in the journal JAMA, found that while the proportion of non-medical opioid use decreased from 5.4 percent in 2003 to 4.9 percent come 2013, the prevalence of prescription opioid disorders has increased from 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent during the same 10 year period.

The study’s lead author Dr. Beth Han, a medical doctor with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) in Rockville, Maryland, was quoted by Forbes as having said in an interview that the findings of the research stress the “importance of addressing the prescription opioid crisis in a coordinated and comprehensive manner.”

The results underscore the importance of addressing the prescription opioid crisis in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. (…) We found a significant decrease in the percentage of nonmedical use of prescription opioids, as well as significant increases in the prevalence of prescription opioid use disorders, high-frequency use, and related mortality among adults aged 18 through 64 years in the United States over the past decade.

In an email to Reuters, Han said that the use of high-intensity opioids increased during the 2000s, which coincides with a period of time in which they were increasingly prescribed.

Amongst those who reported opioid use, the number of folks who reported use exceeding 200 days increased.

As for drug overdoses, deaths involved prescription opioids rose from 4.5 to 7.8 per 100,000 people.

According to Han, the numbers could be brought down by reducing the number of inappropriate prescriptions and the implementation as well as development of new, safer pain treatment methods, Fox News reported.

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