Over one-third of the American adult population were past-year users of prescription opioids at least once in 2015, according to a new government report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Of that fraction — about 91.8 million or 37.9 percent of all American adults — 11.5 million (4.7 percent) misused prescription pain relievers, the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health report revealed. Misuse can lead to health problems, addiction and fatal overdoses.
“The level of overdoses is a crisis and it requires all of our efforts to turn the tide,’ said Kimberly A. Johnson, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA. “That means changing prescribing practices to reduce the number of people developing a problem, ongoing outreach, risk reduction activities like widespread distribution of Naloxone and treatment. Especially medication assisted treatment and recovery support available upon demand.”
Only marijuana comes ahead of prescriptions opioids as the country’s most used illicit substance, and even though misuse of prescriptions drugs is frequent in the U.S., most who used prescription opioids (87.2 percent) didn’t misuse them.
Yet, the researchers believe understanding the reasons for misuse could have major important public health implications because policymakers can utilize this information to help guide their assessments of drug use prevention and treatment in their cities.
“Ask your provider if there are other options,” Johnson said. “Ask [them] about dosing and what the lowest effective dose should be. If you have a family history or your own history of having a substance use disorder, discuss this with your physician and ask for a plan for how to address/manage issues if pain medication is absolutely necessary.”
Additionally, 11.5 million adults used prescription pain relievers improperly on at least one occasion in the past year. Physical pain was cited as the most frequent reason misuse occurred (63.4 percent).
“In the mid-1990s, we began a concerted effort to better address pain,” Johnson explained. “Pain was identified as the fifth vital sign and hospitals and other health care providers were evaluated by accrediting bodies on how they addressed pain. Opioids became the primary tool to address pain regardless of the type of pain or its etiology.”
Prescriptions tranquilizers were also misused by… (continue reading)