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Study points to a growing trend in opioid use over the past 2 decades

The prevalence of prescription opioid use increased from 4.1% of US adults in 1999-2000 to 6.8% in 2013-2014, according to a recent Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety study.

This trend was driven by a sharp increase in long-term use which increased from 1.8% to 5.4%. Of all opioid users in 2013-2014, 79.4% were long-term users compared with 45.1% in 1999-2000. Long-term use was associated with poorer physical health, concurrent benzodiazepine use, and history of heroin use.

The study included data from 47,356 adult participants of National Health and Nutrition Survey from 1999-2000 to 2013-2014.

“The sharply increasing trend in long-term use of prescription opioids is somewhat concerning because there is little research on the possible benefits of this form of treatment – whereas, the evidence about the negative health effects of long-term use of these medications is growing,” said Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, author of the study.

Article: National trends in long-term use of prescription opioids, Ramin Mojtabai, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, doi: 10.1002/pds.4278, published 6 September 2017.