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In the wake of the well-publicized "opioid epidemic", researchers report in the Annals of Internal Medicine (online July 31) that more than one third of U.S. adults were prescribed opioids in 2015 and that misuse remains a major problem. (Citation source http://buff.ly/2vkd8au)
Limited data on the prescription of opioids and their abuse are available despite the number of deaths from drug overdoses in the U.S. having quadrupled between 1999 and 2015.
Using data from 51,200 adults collected in 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), researchers estimate about 38 percent of U.S. adults (or 92 million people) were prescribed an opioid in 2015.
Opioid use was lower between ages 18 and 49 years, and less in men or college graduates but greater in older, female or non-college graduates.
Overall 5% reported misusing opioids. This was higher in those taking prescription opioids (12.5%), and 16.7% reported a prescription opioid use disorder. Misuse was more common amongst the unemployed, low income, or those with behavioral health problems.
Compared to 2010 there appears to be a 20 percent decline in opioid use but many feel this is not a major reduction.