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SAMHSA Highlights Federal Study On Increase Of Prescription Opioid Abuse

By John Lavitt 10/21/15

The nonmedical use of opioids has increased dramatically over the past decade.

SAMHSA Highlights Federal Study On Increase Of Prescription Opioid Abuse

In a press announcement, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has highlighted a federal study on prescription painkiller abuse reported on in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Despite a decrease in the percentage of nonmedical use of prescription opioids, the JAMA article indicates that the prevalence of prescription opioid use disorders, high-frequency use, and related mortality among adults aged 18-64 in the United States has increased.

Based on analysis conducted by researchers at SAMHSA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the research shows that nonmedical use of prescription opioids among people aged 18-64 decreased from 5.4% in 2003 to 4.9% in 2013. Despite this decrease, the research also reveals the effects of the prescription painkiller epidemic during the past decade. There have been increases in the following problems among adults aged 18-64:

  • Prevalence of prescription opioid use disorders increased from 0.6% in 2003 to 0.9% in 2013.
  • Prevalence of high frequency use (200 days or more) increased from 0.3% in 2003 to 0.4% in 2013.
  • The mean number of days of nonmedical use of prescription opioids increased from 2.1 days in 2003 to 2.6 days in 2013.
  • Drug overdose death rates involving prescription opioids increased from 4.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2003 to 7.8 per 100,000 people in 2013.

The research clearly shows that despite the fact that, “…there has been some success in lowering the percentage of nonmedical use of prescription opioids, the consequences continue to ravage many lives,” said Acting SAMHSA Administrator Kana Enomoto. “We must continue to raise awareness about the danger on nonmedical use of prescription opioids, and help people with prescription opioid use disorders get treatment.”

SAMHSA is addressing the negative data by sponsoring a wide variety of prevention and treatment programs. SAMHSA has developed an Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit that provides guidance on reducing the risk of death from opioid-related overdose. Despite such efforts, more needs to be done before the damaging effects of the prescription painkiller epidemic are effectively addressed and mitigated.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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