One in three U.S. adults takes opioids, and many misuse them | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


Science Stats

One in three U.S. adults takes opioids, and many misuse them

By
5:10pm, August 1, 2017

POPPING PILLS  Nearly 92 million U.S. adults used prescription opioids in 2015, a new study estimates. More than 11 million people misused the painkillers and almost 2 million people had opioid dependence or abuse.

Sponsor Message

Nearly 5 percent of U.S. adults misused prescription opioids in 2015, a new study shows.

Based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an in-person survey of more than 50,000 people, researchers estimate that 91.8 million, or 37.8 percent, of adults used prescription opioids in 2015. Some 11.5 million people misused the painkillers, and 1.9 million people reported opioid dependence or abuse, Beth Han of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Rockville, Md., and colleagues report online August 1 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Relieving pain was the most commonly cited reason for people’s most recent episode of misuse — for 66 percent of those reporting misuse, such as using without a prescription, and nearly 49 percent of those with opioid dependence or abuse. (Respondents could report more than one reason for their last misuse.) These results underscore the need for improved pain management, the authors say.

Misuse motivators

Pain relief was the top reason cited for misusing or abusing opioid painkillers. Other reasons included to relax, sleep or get high.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content