Prescription opioid use, misuse, and use disorders in U.S. adults: 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Opioid safety is currently the nation's most pressing public health issue, with death rates from opioid prescriptions approaching epidemic levels. In this study, the investigators used data from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to estimate rates of opioid use and misuse in the United States population. More than one-third of adults reported using prescription opioids in the past year and nearly 5% reported misusing opioids (defined as any use not directed by a physician, including use without a prescription and use at a higher dose or for longer than prescribed). The majority of patients who misused opioids did so without a prescription, with many patients obtaining opioids from friends or relatives. Among those who misused opioids, most did so seeking relief from pain—indicating that untreated pain is common in the population and raising concern that simply reducing opioid prescribing without providing alternative pain treatment modalities could be harmful to patients. A recent PSNet perspective discussed the patient safety aspects of the opioid epidemic.